May 4, 2021
Joe Biden COVID-19 Vaccine Program Updates Speech Transcript May 4
President Joe Biden provided an update on his vaccination plans on May 4, 2021. He discussed plans to vaccinate younger kids and announced his goal of 70% of American adults having at least one vaccine shot by July 4. Read the transcript of his speech briefing here.
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President Biden: (00:00)
… that we’re in our vaccination program, where we are and what comes next in an effort to get this country back closer to normal. And first, where are we? Well, as everyone knows, I promised that we’d administer a hundred million shots in my first hundred days. After we met that goal, we doubled it to a historic 200 million shots. By the time we reached the hundred days last week, we had shattered that mark with over 220 million shots in arms. And as we stand here today, almost 150 million Americans have gotten at least one shot, over 105 million Americans are fully vaccinated. And among our most vulnerable population, seniors, we’re nearing 85% of those who’ve gotten their first shot. 70% of the seniors are now fully vaccinated. It’s a dramatic turnaround from where we were in January when less than 2% of adults and less than 1% of seniors were fully vaccinated. Not only that, cases are down in 40 states these past two weeks.
President Biden: (01:09)
Deaths are down dramatically since January, down over 80% among seniors, which includes a drop among Hispanics of 80% and among African-Americans of 70% of seniors. There are tens of thousands of Americans alive today who would not be alive otherwise, were they not had access to rapid vaccination program. Moms and dads, sisters and brothers, grandparents, neighbors, old friends, they’re around now. And God, thank God for that.
President Biden: (01:40)
Now, where do we go from here? Well, as we anticipated, the pace of the vaccination is slowing now that the majority of American adults have already gotten their first shot, but we’re still vaccinating millions of Americans every day. In fact, in the last 10 days, one out of every 10 adult Americans got a shot, but soon we’ll have reached the adults who are most eager to get vaccinated. And at that point, this effort will shift to a new phase, which is what I want to talk about today.
President Biden: (02:16)
Our new phase will focus on three areas. First, kids, children, between the ages of 12 and 15 years of age. They’re not yet eligible for a vaccine. The FDA scientists are currently reviewing the data to decide if and when to authorize that age range for vaccinations. The FDA, and the FDA alone, will make that decision. But today, I want American parents to know that if that announcement comes, we are ready to move immediately. Immediately move to make about 20,000 pharmacy sites across the country ready to vaccinate those adolescents as soon as the FDA grants it’s okay.
President Biden: (03:01)
Most Americans have a vaccination site about as close as their houses near to a neighborhood school. We’re also going to ship them to pediatricians during the following weeks. So parents and their children can talk to their family doctor about it and get the shot from a provider they trust the most, easy, fast, and free. And if teens are on the move this summer, they can get their first shot in one place and the second shot elsewhere. We know that adolescents are at risk from COVID-19. Most serious illness at that age range is rare. They can still get sick and spread the virus to others. So my hope is that if the vaccine is authorized, parents will take advantage of it and get their kids vaccinated.
President Biden: (03:53)
The second area of focus is making it more convenient for everyone to get a vaccine. We know that many adults have not been vaccinated because they have found it too confusing or too difficult or too inconvenient to get a shot. So for those having trouble finding a location or making an appointment, we’re going to make it easier than ever. We have formerly launched a simple website where you can find the vaccination location closest to you. That site is vaccines.gov. Let me say it again. Vaccines.gov. Go there now, find a location to get the shot and make an appointment. Also today, if you prefer texting, we have another easy way to get the shot. Text your zip code to the following number, 438829. Your zip code to that number, 438829, and you’ll get text back with the location that is nearest you with vaccines in stock right then and there. Yes, you can text your zip code right now to 438829 and get texts back within minutes to places nearest to you to get a vaccination that are available immediately. So send this to your kids, your grandkids, your friends who have not been vaccinated yet.
President Biden: (05:20)
Now I know some people find making an appointment in advance inconvenient, so starting this week, we’re also going to direct all federal pharmacy partners to begin to provide walk-in hours. You’ll soon be able to get vaccinated without an appointments at the vast majority of our 40,000 pharmacy locations across the country. We’re also encouraging our state and local partners to have a walk-in ability as well, to the sites that they run. And beginning next week, we’ll be shipping new allocations of vaccine to rural health clinics, getting more vaccines to more rural clinics so Americans who don’t live near one of the 75,000 vaccination sites will have new options that may be closer, may be closer than anything they thought.
President Biden: (06:11)
We know that vaccination rates are lower in rural areas. And that’s why we’re going to get vaccines closer than ever to rural residents. Also, as we wind down the large mass vaccination sites, we’ll move towards smaller locations, even more convenient to the unvaccinated so for those who don’t want to drive the distance to a large vaccination site, we’ll have smaller sites closer to the un-vaccinated. And for the first 100 days, our goal will be to make it possible for people to come and get vaccinated and we’ll succeed beyond anyone’s expectations, I believe.
President Biden: (06:53)
Now, we’re going to have to bring the vaccine to people who are less eager. So we also know that there are millions of Americans who just need a little bit of encouragement to get the shot. I recently called on employers to do their part by offering paid time off for employees to get vaccinated and opening up a tax credit program that reimburses the businesses for the cost of giving the employee the time off to get vaccinated. And I want to thank the 1000 businesses that have stepped up so far. We’re also going to roll out new partnerships with the business community.
President Biden: (07:31)
We’re working with major businesses, like grocery stores, to provide special deals like discounts to shoppers who come to the stores to get vaccinated. It works both ways. Bring them in to get vaccinated, but when they’re in, they’ll get discounts to purchase goods in that store. Further, we’re working with major sports leagues to launch special promotions for their fans. Things like ticket giveaways, in-stadium vaccination programs, discounts on merchandise and other creative ways to make it easier and more fun to get vaccinated. Now, I’m making it sound more fun to get vaccinated, but it doesn’t hurt to get vaccinated. I’m not saying it’s fun, but they’ll be able to have other things available besides being protected from the virus.
President Biden: (08:19)
Let me repeat, we’re going to make it easier than ever to get vaccinated. Visit vaccines.gov, vaccines.gov or text your zip code to 438829, 438829. Walk into your local pharmacy without an appointment, go to the doctor or local health clinic. It’s free. It’s nearby. Every adult is eligible. Go get the shot as soon as you can.
President Biden: (08:53)
The third area of our is Americans who still aren’t sure they want to get vaccinated. We’ve seen the confidence in vaccines rise steadily these past few months among virtually every segment of the population. And as more and more Americans see their friends and family get vaccinated, they’re making the choice to get vaccinated themselves. Democrats and Republicans, progressives, conservatives, people of all persuasions are getting vaccinated. In fact, the fact is that nearly 85% of seniors have had at least one vaccination shot and the wide cross section of the nation trust the vaccine, regardless of race or ideology. Now, we need to make the same progress for those under 65 years of age. There are a lot of younger people, especially those in the twenties and thirties, who believe they don’t need it.
President Biden: (09:46)
Well, I want to be absolutely clear. You do need to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated not only protects you, it also reduce the risk that you give the virus to somebody else. It could save your life or the lives of people you love. We’re still losing hundreds of Americans under 65 years of age every week, and many more are getting seriously ill from long stretches at a time. Look, even if your chance of getting seriously ill is low, why take the risk when you have a safe, free, and convenient way to prevent it?
President Biden: (10:26)
Additionally, we know that some people may need more information to decide whether to get the vaccine. There is now plenty of information for people to do their homework, in fact, with 150 million Americans that are living now have gotten the vaccine. Talk to someone you trust like your physician or your pharmacist, or people who have already been vaccinated. Talk to your faith leaders or others in your community that you trust. Look to those people to help answer your questions.
President Biden: (11:01)
I want to be clear, I’ve been saying this a long time, but I really believe this is not a Democrat or Republican issue. Science behind the vaccines has been under development for decades. Two of our vaccines were authorized under prior administrations, Republican administrations. My administration, the democratic administration, is doing the work to get hundreds of millions of shots in arms. While we may not always agree on everything, this is one thing people across the political spectrum can agree on. So I want to thank prominent conservatives like Mitch McConnell and a large group of Republican members of Congress who have medical training who have advanced getting vaccinated.
President Biden: (11:46)
I also want to thank the 105 million Americans of every background who are fully protected from one of the deadliest pandemics in our history. You know, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, but there’s one fact I want every American to know, people who are not fully vaccinated can still die every day from COVID-19. Look at the folks in your community have gotten vaccinated and are getting back to living their lives, their full lives. Look at the grandparents united with her grandchildren, friends getting together again, this is your choice. It’s life and death. And I hope everyone knows within themselves, it makes the choice that, well it’s going to help them and their loved ones be safe, get our businesses open again and get us back to normal.
President Biden: (12:37)
Again, in the next two months, our focus is going to be on three groups. Kids between 12 and 15 are awaiting potential FDA authorization to get a shot. Two, adults who have had trouble locating a place to get a shot or who just haven’t gotten around to it. And three, those who need more convincing being convinced of the necessity of getting the vaccine. As we turn to this new phase, we’re also setting a new goal. Two months from today, two months from today, families across the country are going to celebrate the 4th of July. Our goal by July 4th is to have 70% of adult Americans with at least one shot and 160 million Americans fully vaccinated. That means giving close to a hundred million shots, some first shots, others second shots over the next 60 days.
President Biden: (13:33)
Of course, Americans can still get shots after July 4th, but no one should wait. Let’s try to hit that 70% mark, at least with one shot before that day. It’s another huge goal. And as you may remember, we were initially focused on getting enough vaccines for every adult. Well, we did that, we have enough the vaccines. Now that we have the vaccine supply, we’re focused on convincing even more Americans to show up and get the vaccine that is available to them. If we succeed in this effort, as we did with the last, then Americans will have taken a serious step towards return to normal. That’s July 4th, but we’re not there yet, that’s why I’m asking people to continue to follow the CDC guidelines as we work to get more people vaccinated.
President Biden: (14:26)
And to clear up any confusion, the good news is the last week the CDC said that vaccinated people do not need to wear their mask outside unless they’re very crowded settings like a sporting event. And if we can continue to drive vaccinations up and case loads down, we’ll need our masks even less and less. I know it will take time to get everything back to back to normal. I know we’re all going to have to be patient with one another. Masks have needlessly divided this country. Masking as directed, is a patriotic duty, but so too is treating each other with respect and patience.
President Biden: (15:09)
One final point. As I said, in my address to Congress last week, Congress is going to be the arsenal for fighting COVID-19 just like we were the arsenal for democracy in World War II. Not only because it will have kept us safe, but because it’s who we are. All right, we’ve already committed to work, to send 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries starting this month and into June. That means of all the vaccines we’ve produced for the United States at that time, we’ll have given about 10% to the rest of the world. It’s a significant humanitarian commitment in addition to our funding of COVAX. And I’ll have more to say about that soon.
President Biden: (15:58)
I’ll conclude with this. The light at the end of the tunnel is actually growing brighter and brighter. So Americans have sacrificed and served to make this progress possible showing the best of who we are as a people. We need you. We need you to bring it home. Get vaccinated. In two months, let’s celebrate our independence as a nation and our independence from this virus. We can do this. We will do this. Thank you all. May God bless you. And may God protect our troops. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (16:32)
[crosstalk 00:16:32] Mr. President, how much harder will this next phase be for the vaccination campaign?
President Biden: (16:40)
I’m sorry, you’re both speaking. One at a time.
Speaker 3: (16:43)
Mr. President, where are you sending the AstraZeneca doses first? What will be the criteria, countries like India or Brazil that needs the most or will be [crosstalk 00:16:54]
President Biden: (16:56)
We’re helping India significantly. I spoke to Premier Modi. What he needs most is he needs the material and the parts to be able to have as machines that can make the vaccine work. We’re sending him that. We’re sending them the oxygen. We’re sending them a lot of the precursors. So we’re doing a lot for India. With regard [crosstalk 00:17:16] let me finish.
President Biden: (17:18)
With regard to the AstraZeneca vaccine, which we had. We have sent that vaccine to Canada and to Mexico. And there are other countries that we’re talking to now. A matter of fact, I talked to head of state today, I’m not prepared to announce who else we’ll be giving the vaccine to, but we are going to, by the 4th of July, have sent about 10% of what we have to other nations, including some of the ones you mentioned.
Speaker 4: (17:42)
[crosstalk 00:17:42] How much harder will this next phase be for the administration? How much harder compared to the first 100 days?
President Biden: (17:49)
Well, I think in one sense, it’s easier in that it’s up to convincing the American people rather than guaranteeing them we’d have the supply for them. So that was really hard. It was really hard to get from, it’s that old expression, zero to 60 miles an hour. It was getting very hard to get from very low count to 600 million vaccines and then set up all the logistics. But I think what’s going to happen, it’s my prayer, that more and more people who get vaccinated are going to be listening to people who they love and are around and they’re going to say, why don’t you just go ahead and do it? And there’s some evidence we still had a good dose of vaccine being administered the last two weeks, and it’s still moving, but we know we’re going to get to a place where the doubters exist or the people who just are, I don’t want to say lazy, just not sure how to get to where they want to go.
President Biden: (18:50)
It’s going to be hard. So we’re going to keep at it. We’re going to keep at it. And I think the end of the day, most people will be convinced by the fact that their failure to get the vaccine may cause other people to get sick and maybe die. [crosstalk 00:19:11] Let me finish here. I promise I’ll get to you. Okay. And so it’s in one sense, it’s harder. I mean, it’s easier because I don’t have to put together this massive logistical effort, but in the other sense, it’s harder. It’s beyond my personal control, I could not control, but I could arrange and make sure those other things happened if we did it well. I think we did, but it’s going to be harder. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 5: (19:40)
Thank you. If this phase is not successful, are there any circumstances under which you would require the vaccine for people to do certain things like travel? And if not, what more can you do beyond this?
President Biden: (19:55)
I’m not going to, I’m one of these guys who thinks positively and not negatively. So there’s more that we can do. One of the things we can do is we can continue to produce more of the vaccine, work harder to get it available to more people and export a lot of that to help. Secondly, whether we’re going to, I think that we’re going to continue to, I don’t think, we’re going to continue to try to bring in an effectively spokespersons who represent communities that in fact people listen to and it’s going to get more granular, I think, rather than large. The likelihood of us being able to get a hundred thousand vaccinations in a week at a major site is getting harder and harder. Those people desperately wanting to get the vaccine. So I think we’re going to make some real progress here. We’ll see, but we’re going to keep at it.
Speaker 6: (20:58)
President Biden: (20:58)
Speaker 6: (20:59)
Can you say whether you’ve spoken to your trade representative yet, [inaudible 00:21:06] about the issue of issuing waivers on vaccine patents? Is that something you would support?
President Biden: (21:11)
Well, we’re going to decide that as we go along, I haven’t made that decision yet.
Speaker 6: (21:16)
[inaudible 00:21:16] You’ve already ordered 100 million more. Would you order additionally on top-
President Biden: (21:23)
The answer is, we’re going to, as long as there’s the problem, anywhere in the world, even if we solve it here, we’re going to move as quickly as we can to get as many doses of Moderna and Pfizer as possibly can be produced and export those around the world. Yes, ma’am. This is the last question.
Speaker 7: (21:43)
Mr. President, thank you. Are you planning to meet President Putin during your trip, your upcoming trip to Europe? Is there a meeting that you’re planning to have with him?
President Biden: (21:52)
Speaker 7: (21:52)
President Biden: (21:52)
That is my hope and expectation. We’re working on it. [crosstalk 00:21:56].
Speaker 8: (21:56)
Mr. President, why isn’t your goal higher for vaccinations? The US is currently administering about a million first doses per day, [inaudible 00:22:03] about 35 million people to hit 70%. Why not set that target for 75% or 80%?
President Biden: (22:12)
I like to get it at hundred percent, but I think realistically, we can get to that place between now and July 4th. And by the way, it’s not like July 4th, the door’s closed. It’s just, I picked July 4th to try to get to a place where we get back closer to normal. And so we were going to be vaccinating people into next fall. This is not going to something all of a sudden, July 4th, where we’re going to just declare it’s over. Thank you so much.