President Joe Biden received his Covid-19 vaccine booster shot on Monday afternoon at the White House just days after booster doses were approved by federal health officials.
"We know that to beat this pandemic and to save lives ... we need to get folks vaccinated," Biden said during remarks ahead of his shot. "So, please, please do the right thing. Please get these shots. It can save your life and it can save the lives of those around you."
The President received his first two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine ahead of his inauguration in January. The 78-year-old President qualified for a booster dose since he received his second Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine more than six months ago and is in an eligible age group.
The President said first lady Jill Biden would also be getting a booster shot soon but she was not present on Monday afternoon -- the President said she was teaching. The first lady is a professor at Northern Virginia Community College outside Washington.
Biden joked on Monday about how he is "way over" the age of 65, which is part of the reason he is eligible for the shot. He said he didn't have any side effects after getting his first or second Covid-19 vaccine shots.
"Boosters are important, but the most important thing we need to do is get more people vaccinated," Biden said.
He noted that Americans who are fully vaccinated are already highly protected from severe illness, and urged people who have not gotten their first shots to do so as soon as possible.
The President said: "The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing. Over 77% of adults have gotten at least one shot. About 23% haven't gotten any shots, and that distinct minority is causing an awful lot of us an awful lot of damage for the rest of the country."
"This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That's why I'm moving forward with vaccination requirements wherever I can," Biden said.
The President said on Wednesday he would be traveling to Chicago to speak about why he believes it is so important that more businesses are instituting their own vaccine requirements.
Early Friday morning, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky diverged from the agency's independent vaccine advisers to recommend boosters for a broader group of people -- those ages 18 to 64 who are at increased risk of Covid-19 because of their workplaces or institutional settings -- in addition to older adults, long-term care facility residents and some people with underlying health conditions.
The CDC recommendation includes the recommendations made by its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Thursday when it voted to recommend boosters for people age 65 and older and residents of long-term care facilities who received the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine series at least six months ago, and people ages 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions.
The CDC also endorsed the vaccine advisers' recommendation that people ages 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster based on their individual benefits and risks.
The US Food and Drug Administration last week gave emergency use authorization for a booster dose of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine in people 65 and older, people at high risk of severe disease and people whose jobs put them at risk of infection.
Biden spoke last week about the next phase of his administration's plan to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and contain the Delta variant after the CDC issued its booster shot recommendations. He stressed all of the guidance about boosters was left to scientists and doctors to determine and that his administration has always led with the science.
The President urged those eligible to get their booster shots as soon as possible and urged Americans to get their first shots if they have not already done so. Biden said the US already has all of the tools to beat the Covid-19 pandemic.
White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said Friday the US had secured enough supply for every American to receive a Covid-19 booster shot and that up to 20 million Americans had already hit the six-month mark and are therefore already eligible for the shot.
Zients said the Biden administration was prioritizing getting booster shots to the most vulnerable Americans — particularly residents and staff at long-term care facilities — as quickly as possible. Zients said eligible Americans would be able to receive a booster shot at roughly 80,000 locations across the country, including more than 40,000 local pharmacies.
The booster shot rollout also comes as the US is set to significantly increase the number of Covid-19 vaccines it will ship to foreign nations beginning in 2022 in an effort to end the pandemic worldwide. Biden announced last week the US was purchasing an additional 500 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines to donate to low- and lower-middle-income countries around the world. These vaccines bring the United States' total to over 1.1 billion vaccines donated to other countries.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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