US President Joe Biden has publicly received a COVID-19 booster jab, urging more Americans to get vaccinated amid a recent increase of infections linked in part to the highly contagious Delta variant.
Biden on Monday rejected criticism from the World Health Organization and other health experts, who have urged the administration to supply more vaccine doses to developing nations before providing third jabs to US citizens.
“We’re doing more than every other nation in the world combined,” Biden said as he got the booster inoculation. “We’re going to do our part.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week backed a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine for people over the age of 65 and with underlying medical conditions that put them at risk.
The CDC also recommended that front-line workers at higher risk in certain industries get booster shots.
“We know that to beat this pandemic and to save lives, to keep our children safe, our schools open, our economy going, we need to get folks vaccinated,” Biden said on Monday, adding that First Lady Jill Biden would also get a booster jab.
“Please, please do the right thing. Please get the shots. It can save your life and save the lives of those around you, and it’s easy, accessible and it’s free,” said Biden, addressing the American public, segments of which remain unwilling to get vaccinated.
He also said he would be urging more private sector organisations in the US to begin requiring employees and customers to be vaccinated.
Biden announced at the UN General Assembly last week that the US government would double its purchases of the Pfizer vaccine, raising to 1.1 billion the number of doses for distribution to other nations during the next year.
More than 183 million people in the US, or about 65 percent of the population, have been fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.
But authorities warn of a pandemic among the unvaccinated as COVID-19 cases rise in areas of the country where vaccination rates are lower, such as Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
Biden announced a series of measures earlier this month to try to get more jabs in arms, including requiring federal workers to be inoculated and mandating that companies with more than 100 employees ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested regularly for the virus.
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is preparing to issue an emergency regulation implementing Biden’s mandate.
As the OSHA rule-making proceeds, Biden said he would travel to Chicago on Wednesday to highlight efforts by private employers to promote vaccines among employees.
US health officials are encouraging Americans to get booster jabs at least six months after their last vaccine.
Medical experts have been divided on the advisability of requiring booster jabs but data presented by Pfizer had indicated antibody protection against the virus begins to fade across a period of months.
Meanwhile, Biden said data on the effectiveness of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines was still being evaluated for a recommendation on boosters.