Jan 16, 2021
Joe Biden Speech Transcript on National COVID-19 Vaccination Plans
Joe Biden gave a speech on January 15, 2020 outlining vaccination plans for the United States. Read the full transcript here.
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Joe Biden: (00:00)
… thought they’d ever be out of work facing eviction, or waiting hours in their cars for a meal, from a food bank. I talked about how our rescue plan is a necessary bridge to our economic recovery, and our ability to build back better, stronger, and more secure. And while these crises have a cost real damage.
Joe Biden: (00:28)
I explained how it will cost more, hundreds of billions, of dollars more to undo the harm. I talked about our moral obligation to act and about the clear economic consensus that making the investments I’m calling for, that the resource, that the required deficit spending as the original plans have as well, are necessary to get us out of this deep hole we find ourselves in as a nation. I also talked about our seriousness of purpose. Our clear plan with transparency and accountability, and why our call for unity is equally necessary.
Joe Biden: (01:09)
Unity is not some pie in the sky dream. It’s a practical step to getting things done. We didn’t get into all of this overnight. We won’t get out of it overnight either. But we will get through it, and we’ll get through it together. And today I’d like to talk more about what that means, and no effort.
Joe Biden: (01:34)
I mean sparing no effort to get Americans vaccinated. Vice President Harrison and I, we just received a briefing from our COVID team. Truthfully, we remain in a very dark winter. Infection rates are up 34%. more people are being hospitalized because of COVID than ever before.
Joe Biden: (01:58)
We’re up to between three and 4,000 deaths per day. As we approach a grim milestone of 400,000 deaths in America. That’s staggering to state the obvious. I know the pain that so many of your experience; experiencing right now. Starting by sitting now for breakfast this morning, and staring at an empty chair around the kitchen table. Where a loved one used to sit, laugh, talk about how you love one another.
Joe Biden: (02:31)
I know the frustration that we’re all feeling. Almost a year later we’re still far from back to normal. The honest truth is this, things will get worse before they get better. I told you, I’ll always level with you. And the policy changes that we’re going to be making are going to take time to show up in the COVID statistics.
Joe Biden: (02:57)
Not just statistics, it’s people’s lives. People getting infected today, don’t show up in case counts for weeks. Those who perish from this disease die weeks after exposure. So it will take time, but I know there are things we can do and we can do them now.
Joe Biden: (03:20)
For example, the vaccines offer so much hope, and we’re grateful for the scientists and researchers, and everyone who participated in the clinical trials. We’re grateful for the integrity of the process. The rigorous view and testing that’s led to millions of people around the world already being vaccinated safely. But the vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure, thus far.
Joe Biden: (03:46)
And in today’s briefing, we discussed five things. Five things we’ll do in an attempt to turn things around. Five things, to turn frustration into motivation. Five things, to help us meet our goal of 100 million shots by the end of our first 100 days in office. Some wonder if we’re reaching too far for that goal. Is it achievable, is a legitimate question to ask.
Joe Biden: (04:15)
Let me be clear. I’m convinced we can get it done. And this is a time to set big goals, to pursue them with courage and conviction, because the health of the nation is literally at stake. First, we will immediately work with States to open up vaccinations to more priority groups.
Joe Biden: (04:38)
The process of establishing priority groups is driven by science, but the problem is the implementation has been too rigid and confusing. If you were to ask most people today, they couldn’t tell you who exactly is getting vaccinated.
Joe Biden: (04:58)
What they do know is there are tens of millions of doses of vaccine sitting unused in freezers around the country. While people who want and need the vaccine, can’t get it. We’ll fix the problem by encouraging States to allow more people to get vaccinated beyond healthcare workers and move through those groups as quickly as they think we can.
Joe Biden: (05:24)
That includes anyone, 65 years or older. A population that is accounted for over 80% of the deaths today, 80% of the deaths to date. We’re all set to continue vaccinating frontline, essential workers like educators, first responders, grocery store workers, et cetera. It won’t mean that everyone in this group will get vaccinated immediately, as the supply is not where it needs to be.
Joe Biden: (05:51)
But it will mean that vaccines become available as they can become available. They’ll reach more people who need them. Will reach out and get the vaccine used.
Joe Biden: (06:03)
The second thing we’re going to change, if we’re getting more people vaccinated, then we need more vaccination sites. That’s where we’re going to harness the full resources of the Federal Government to establish thousands of community vaccination centers. On my first day in office, I’ll instruct the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA to begin setting up the first of these centers.
Joe Biden: (06:30)
By the end of our first month in office, we will have 100 federally supported centers across the nation that will ultimately vaccinate millions of people. Think of places that are convenient and accessible; school gymnasiums, sports stadiums, community centers. We’ve already had productive conversations with bipartisan groups of County officials, mayors, governors, tribal leaders, leaders of the private sector who shared their ideas with us about this effort.
Joe Biden: (07:02)
And as we build them, we’re going to make sure it’s done equitably. We’re going to make sure there are vaccination centers in communities hit hardest by the pandemic. In black and Latino communities, in rural communities as well.
Joe Biden: (07:18)
Within the first month of our administration, we’re going to deploy mobile clinics. Mobile clinics moving from community to community that will partner with community health centers, and local primary care doctors, to offer vaccines to hard hit and hard to reach commuters; in cities, small towns and rural communities.
Joe Biden: (07:40)
And to staff up these centers we will mobilize thousands of clinical and nonclinical professionals. Think of the people that we deploy in natural disasters. Experts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, from FEMA and the Center Of Disease Control, our Public Health Service Commission Corps, our military medical personnel, our first responders. Additionally, we’re going to expand the pool of medical professionals, including retired healthcare workers, who can administer the vaccine.
Joe Biden: (08:12)
And to ensure we have enough vaccinators to meet the nation’s needs as we ramp this up. And as governors of both parties have asked, our administration will reimburse States 100% when their National Guard is deployed in the fight against COVID. We’ll provide resources to help States cover the cost of personnel; vaccinators, administrative staff.
Joe Biden: (08:40)
As well as supplies like dry ice and laptops and protective equipment. The third change we’re going to make is we’re going to fully activate the pharmacies across the country to get the vaccination into more arms as quickly as possible. Millions of Americans now turn to the local pharmacies every day for their medicines, flu shots, and much more.
Joe Biden: (09:05)
We’re going to immediately start new major efforts, working directly with both independent and chain pharmacies to get Americans vaccinated. This program will expand beyond access in neighborhoods across the country so that you can make an appointment and get your shot, conveniently show up at a particular time and get it done quickly.
Joe Biden: (09:32)
The fourth thing we’re going to do is we’re going to use the full strength of the Federal Government to ramp up supply of the vaccine. As I said before, we’ll use the Defense Production Act to work with private industry, to accelerate the making the materials needed to supply and administer the vaccine.
Joe Biden: (09:51)
From the tubes and syringes, to protective equipment. And I’ve already asked the team, and we have identified the suppliers who are prepared to work with our teams, and we’re going to work with their teams. Not some day, we’re going to go do this. When I say we’re going to invoke the Defense Production Act, I said, go out, even though we don’t have any authority, go out and identify those companies that are prepared, and will be able to do what we’re going to ask.
Joe Biden: (10:22)
As you made clear earlier this month, the Trump administrations policy of holding back close to half the supply of the vaccines available did not make sense. Our administration will release the vast majority of the vaccines when they’re available. So more people could get vaccinated quickly, while still retaining a small reserve for any unseen shortage, or delays. But let me be clear, we are not changing the FDA’s recommendation, and its recommended dosing schedules.
Joe Biden: (10:57)
We believe it’s critical that everyone should get two doses within the FDA recommended timeframe. So we’re not doing away with that availability. Fifth, we will always be honest and transparent about where we stand, both the good news, as well as the bad. We’re going to make sure state and local officials know how much supply they’ll be getting ,and when they can expect to get it so they can plan.
Joe Biden: (11:27)
Right now, we’re hearing that they can’t plan because they don’t know how much supply of vaccines they can expect and what timeframe. That stops when we’re an office. We’re also promised to provide regular updates to you, the American people, on our progress and our goals.
Joe Biden: (11:45)
We will be, I promise you, transparent about the decisions we’re making and why we’re making the decisions. You’re entitled to know. Our administration will lead with science and scientist. With the Center For Disease Control, the National Institute Of Health, that will be free and totally free from political influence.
Joe Biden: (12:07)
A surgeon general who’s independent and speaks directly to the American people. The FDA whose decisions are based on science and science alone, speaking directly to you. Look, while millions of Americans have already gotten the vaccine and millions more are all ready to get it, we also know we need to address vaccine hesitancy and build trust in many communities.
Joe Biden: (12:33)
We know that’s the case, for example, in black, Latino, and Native American communities. People who have not always been treated with dignity and honesty they deserve by the Federal Government, and the scientific community throughout our history. We also see the disinformation campaigns are already underway to further undermine trust in the vaccines.
Joe Biden: (12:56)
Our administration will launch a massive public education campaign to rebuild that trust. We’ll help people understand what science tells us, that the vaccines help reduce the risk of COVID infections, and can better safeguard our health, and the health of our families and our communities.
Joe Biden: (13:16)
It’s a critical piece to account for a tragic reality of the disproportionate impact this virus has had on black, Latinos, and Native American people, who are being infected about four times the rate of white Americans. And dying nearly three times the rate of white Americans. This is unacceptable. It’s unconscionable. Equity is central to our COVID response.
Joe Biden: (13:44)
The vice-president and I commit to making sure communities of color and rural neighborhoods, those living with disabilities and seniors are not left behind in our vaccination plans.
Joe Biden: (13:58)
Look, our plan is as clear as it is bold, get more people vaccinated for free. Create more places for them to get vaccinated. Mobilize more medical teams to get the shots in people’s arms. Increase supply, and get it out the door as soon as possible. This will be one of the most challenging operational efforts ever undertaken by our country. But you have my word, and we will manage the hell out of this operation. But as I said last night, we need funding from Congress to make this happen.
Joe Biden: (14:37)
And I’m optimistic. I’m convinced the American people are ready to spare no effort and no expense to get this done. All these steps will take some time. It may take many months to get where we need to be. There will be stumbles. And yes, I know so much has already been asked of you. And when we’re sworn in next week, we’re going to ask you to keep the faith and keep following what we know works.
Joe Biden: (15:09)
One of our 100 day challenges is to mask up everyone. The day were inaugurated, I’m going to ask you to mask up for the next 100 days. This is not a political issue. And I will issue an executive order to require mask where I have the authority to do that. For federal workers and federal property, on interstate travel like trains and planes. We’ll also be working with mayors and governors in red States and blue States and ask them to require masking up in their cities and their States. Look, I hope we now know this is not a political issue. This is about saving lives.
Joe Biden: (15:54)
I know it’s become a partisan issue. But what a stupid, stupid thing for it to happen. This is a patriotic act. We’re asking you, we’re in a war with this virus, and experts say and have shown that wearing a mask from now until April will save as many as 50,000 lives.
Joe Biden: (16:21)
Quite frankly, it was shocking to see members of the Congress while the Capitol was under siege by a deadly mob of thugs refusing to wear a mask while they were in secure locations. I’m so proud of my congressmen right here in the state of Delaware. Lisa Blunt Rochester, trying to hand out masks when people are lying on the floor, huddled up.
Joe Biden: (16:46)
And Republican college refusing to put them on. What the hell is the matter with them? It’s time to grow up. Result? At least four members of Congress to date, included a cancer survivor, now have COVID-19 who were in those rooms. For God’s sake, wear a mask, if not for yourself, for your loved ones, for your country.
Joe Biden: (17:18)
These are real matters of life and death. We need you to stick with hand washing, social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings with people outside your own household. We’ll be a partner to the States and cities. So where things are working, we’ll help do more of the good work. And when things can improve, we’ll bring more resources to bear, to get folks tested and vaccinated.
Joe Biden: (17:48)
I promise you, we’re going to work closely with nonprofits, and with the private sector who we know all want to partner with us in this effort. The more people we vaccinate, and the faster we do it, the sooner we can put this pandemic behind us. And the sooner we can build our economy back better, and get back to our lives, and to our loved ones.
Joe Biden: (18:15)
As we’re seeing during this pandemic, we can’t solve our problems as a divided nation. The only way we come through this is if we come through together, as Americans, fellow Americans. And as the United States of America. Vice President elect Harris and I ran on that vision. And starting at noon on Wednesday, that’s exactly how we’re going to govern, and ask for your help. God bless you all. Keep you safe. May God protect our troops. Thank you. [Crosstalk 00:18:59]. Yes.
Speaker 2: (18:55)
Okay. [crosstalk 00:19:23].