The White House on Tuesday encouraged Americans to talk about COVID-19 vaccination at the Thanksgiving table, insisting that widespread vaccination could prevent almost every coronavirus death in the country.
At a press briefing, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha rolled out the Biden administration’s plan for a “six-week sprint” to convince Americans to take the updated COVID-19 vaccine shots before the end of the year. The campaign includes hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding for community health centers to increase the pace of vaccinations, but Jha said every American needs to “step up” and be involved in conversations on vaccination as well.
“Bottom line is that we’re doing everything we can in the next six weeks to help families get their updated COVID shots by the end of the year, because it’s the best protection for this winter,” Jha said, adding that the latest iteration of the COVID-19 vaccine is a “once a year shot,” similar to the flu shot.
“Now, while I’m encouraged by the work that so many are doing, we need everybody to step up. We need to make protecting our loved ones an important part of the conversation we have around the Thanksgiving table, an important part of the conversation we have in the days and weeks ahead,” he continued. “Because here’s what we know: If folks get their updated vaccines, and they get treated, if they have a breakthrough infection, we can prevent essentially every COVID death in America.”
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Jha urged every American to get both the COVID and flu shots, repeating his controversial remark from September, saying, “That’s why God gave you two arms, one in each arm.”
The Biden administration’s six-week COVID-19 vaccination campaign is aimed at reaching communities that were “hardest hit by COVID-19” through paid media and new vaccination sites.
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The Department of Health and Human Services is spending $350 million to expand local vaccination efforts at community health centers and another $125 million on efforts to get older Americans and people with disabilities vaccinated, according to a White House fact sheet.
White House officials said that in 2020 and 2021 there was a substantial increase in COVID-19 infections as the winter months began, and they want to head off an expected increase for 2022 as well.
White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke at Tuesday’s pres briefing, where he delivered his “final message” before stepping down at the end of the year.
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Fauci emphasized the safety and efficacy of the approved COVID-19 vaccines in preventing severe illness and deaths and encouraged Americans to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. He noted that coronavirus vaccine effectiveness wanes over time and said the disease shouldn’t be compared to other vaccine-treatable illnesses like Measles because of new emerging variants every few months.
“My message, and my final message may be the final message I give you from this podium is that please, for your own safety, for that of your family, get your updated COVID 19 shot as soon as you’re eligible to protect yourself, your family and your community,” Fauci said. “I urge you to visit vaccine.gov to find a location where you can easily get an updated vaccine, and please do it as soon as possible.”