Dec 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden: It's "your patriotic duty" to get vaccinated

President Biden told unvaccinated Americans Tuesday that getting the COVID vaccine is "your patriotic duty" and "an obligation to your country."

Why it matters: Biden's remarks come amid a surge in new cases largely driven by the Omicron variant, which is now the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the U.S.

What he's saying: "If you're not fully vaccinated, you have good reason to be concerned" about the Omicron variant, Biden warned.

  • "You’re at a high risk of getting sick. And if you get sick, you’re likely to spread it to others including friends and family, and the unvaccinated have a significantly higher risk of ending up in hospital, or even dying," he added.
  • "Almost everyone who has died from COVID-19 in the past many months has been unvaccinated."

Biden also referenced former President Trump's announcement Sunday that he'd gotten a vaccine booster.

  • "Maybe one of the few things he and I agree on," Biden said.

Driving the news: The Biden administration announced Tuesday it plans to purchase 500 million rapid tests to deliver to people for free starting in January.

  • The federal government is also setting up additional testing sites and immediately sending emergency medical staffing to overwhelmed hospitals in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Hampshire and Vermont.
  • Officials have portioned out N95 masks, gloves, ventilators and other PPE from the national stockpile so they're ready for shipment to states in need of assistance, the administration.
  • An additional 1,000 military doctors, nurses and other health care workers will be deployed to medical centers as needed in January and February.

The big picture: People have struggled to find coronavirus tests ahead of the holidays amid a new surge in cases.

  • Given Omicron's transmissibility, accessible testing is more important than ever for life to go on without massive disruption, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes.

The bottom line: "This isn’t March of 2020. 200 million people are fully vaccinated," Biden said.

  • "We’re prepared; we know more. We just have to stay focused," he added. "There is no challenge too big for America."

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout. It has been corrected to reflect Biden made the remarks on Tuesday, not Monday.

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