President Biden reprised his role as America’s vaccine pitchman Wednesday in a joint address to Congress like no other, saying there is work to do against COVID-19 but one of “the greatest logistical achievements our country has ever seen” is starting to pay dividends.
“Parents are seeing smiles on their kids’ faces as they go back to school because teachers and school bus drivers, cafeteria workers have been vaccinated,” Mr. Biden told lawmakers and dignitaries. “Grandparents hugging their children and grandchildren instead of pressing their hands against a window to say goodbye.”
“Go get vaccinated, America,” Mr. Biden said. “They’re available.”
Mr. Biden is under intense pressure to outline rosier days ahead after a year-long pandemic that’s killed nearly 575,000 Americans and sparked economic woe.
His administration is rolling out vaccines developed under former President Donald Trump, delivering 220 million shots in its first 100 days after Mr. Biden set a modest goal of 100 million.
“The vaccination pace handed to the new administration on January 20th by President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed isn’t an accomplishment, it’s an expectation,” Michael Bars, a communications aide in the Trump White House, told The Washington Times in a swift reaction to Mr. Biden’s boast about the cadence.
Mr. Biden said the rollout is showing results among older Americans who were prioritized, though his top health officials want to create widespread immunity to the pernicious virus.
“Senior deaths from COVID-19 are down 80% since January. Down 80%,” Mr. Biden said. “And, more than half of all adults in America have gotten at least one shot.”
“Everyone over the age of 16, everyone — is now eligible and can get vaccinated right away. So get vaccinated now,” he said.
The pandemic hung over the proceedings, with masked attendees seated in socially distanced fashion throughout the chamber. Fist bumps replaced the usual handshakes and hugs along the aisle during Mr. Biden’s entrance.
“While the setting tonight is familiar,” Mr. Biden said, “this gathering is very different — a reminder of the extraordinary times we are in.”
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