President Joe Biden gets COVID-19 booster shot

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday got his COVID-19 booster shot days after health officials approved additional Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses for millions of Americans.

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Biden rolled up his sleeve at the White House to receive his booster shot. He said first lady Jill Biden also plans to get her third shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed booster shots for people who have received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and who are either aged 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities, dealing with underlying medical conditions or working or living in areas that put them at an increased risk of COVID-19 exposure. Days earlier, the Food and Drug Administration had approved use of the shots.

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On Monday, Biden said the boosters are important to keeping people protected against COVID-19, though he emphasized that more people still need to get their initial shots to curb the spread of the viral infection.

“The bottom line is if you’re fully vaccinated … you’re highly protected now from severe illness even if you get COVID-19,” he said. “Let me be clear: boosters are important, but the most important thing we need to do is get more people vaccinated.”

Data from the CDC shows that as of Sunday morning, 55% of Americans, or 183.6 million people, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The numbers include almost 67% of American adults.

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About 64% of Americans, or 213.4 million people, have gotten at least one dose of any of the available vaccines, including 77% of all adults.

“About 23% haven’t gotten any shots, and that distinct minority is causing an awful lot … of damage for the rest of the country,” Biden said. “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That’s why I’m moving forward with vaccination requirements wherever I can.”

Earlier this month, Biden toughened COVID-19 vaccination requirements for federal workers, contractors, employees of large businesses and others as part of a six-point plan aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 as the highly transmissible delta variant and continued vaccine hesitancy have led to spikes in cases nationwide.

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The U.S. has reported the most COVID-19 cases of any nation, with 42.9 million as of Monday, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. More than 688,000 people have died nationwide of the virus, according to the university.

Globally, more than 232 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, resulting in 4.7 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.