Six months into the Biden Administration’s vaccination effort, 164 million Americans are fully vaccinated, including 80 percent of seniors and more than 60 percent of adults.

Thursday evening, President Biden delivered remarks to Americans encouraging them to get vaccinated and explaining the new mask guidelines set by the CDC.

 “On Tuesday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, announced this new mask recommendation in parts of the country where Covid cases are substantially higher, where people didn’t get vaccinated,” he stated. “The CDC recommends you wear a mask when you’re in public and indoors like work or in a grocery store. That’s true for both vaccinated and the unvaccinated.” 

Federal Employees Must Get Vaccinated

The President announced a new requirement for all federal employees and personnel which includes every federal government employee and onsite contractor attesting to their vaccination status or submission to weekly testing, mask wearing, and social distancing

“All federal personnel and visitors to federal buildings will have to do the same thing [wear a mask]. As I said from the beginning, a mask is not a political statement, it’s about protecting yourself and protecting others. Masking is one defense against the spread of Covid-19. But make no mistake, vaccines are the best defense against you getting severely ill from Covid-19.” He stated. “The very best defense.” 

The Biden administration is also looking into how to apply these roles to our military service and those who serve this country. He is working with the Department of Defense to provide the safest and best solution for military workers. Because of their service and constant travelling to foreign land, a Covid vaccination and ample protection is a must to ensure their safety and security.

While the President only has control over the federal and public sector of our workforce, he is strongly encouraging private businesses to abide by similar guidelines and provide incentives to increase vaccination rates and prevent the spread of the virus.

Paid Time Off to Get Vaccinated

The speech of the President laid out his plan to increase vaccination rates in the country and prevent further Covid cases through restrictions and regulations. One incentive he is pushing is the government reimbursing small and medium businesses who offer paid time off for their workers to get vaccinated. “We’re still hearing that people are unable to get time off from their employer to get vaccinated. This is unacceptable for some time now.” The president stated. “You should be able to get the shot and still get paid.” 

He encouraged these businesses to allow their workers to leave their shift and get vaccinated, since many cannot afford to skip a day of work and do so. The American Rescue Plan allows the government to fully reimburse the businesses with money lost, so they can continue to pay their workers for their time off. This also applies to the families of the workers. “Employers can get reimbursed if they give parents time off with parents time off with paid leave to take their kids or their own parents to get vaccinated.” 

Further Incentives to Get Vaccinated

Secondly, Biden said he will continue to work with states to encourage unvaccinated people to get vaccinated. “So today, I’m calling on all state and local governments to use funding they have received including from the American Rescue Plan to give $100 to anyone who gets fully vaccinated.” 

This approach is inspired by the grocery store chain Kroger, who offered the same incentive and saw its vaccination rate increase from 50% to 75%. 

He addressed the controversy which may surround this incentive as well. “It might sound unfair to folks who got vaccinated already, but here’s the deal, if incentives help us beat this virus, I believe we should use them. We all benefit.” 

Get Kids Vaccinated Before School

Schools are opening up again this fall, and Biden made it clear he wants them as safe as possible. “We can and we must open schools this fall, full time is better for our children’s mental and emotional wellbeing.”

His administration is working diligently to include safety measures in public schools and get as many workers and students vaccinated. “We provided schools billions of dollars to implement safety measures, better ventilation, social distances, and other measures.” In March, Biden made it his mission to protect teachers and school workers by allowing them to be one of the first groups eligible to get vaccinated. “Almost 90% of educators and school staff are now vaccinated.”  

Now, he is encouraging those aged 12-17 to get vaccinated now that they are eligible. “Today, I’m asking school districts to host one last popup vaccination clinic over the coming weeks for kids age 12 and up. We’re directing federal pharmacy programs to help make that happen.” 

What Needs to be Done

Towards the end of his speech, the President discussed how far we have come from the “dark winter” and what needs to be done in order to completely eradicate the virus. 

“We have the right plan. We’re coming back. We just have to stay ahead of this virus.”

Before he ended his speech, he pulled out a piece of paper which had the number of Americans dead from Covid-19. “This morning, the total deaths in the United States waa 609,441. Granted, the death rate per day is way down, it’s down to 400. But that’s more deaths than World War I, World War II, Vietnam, 9/11, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars combined.”

The President ended his speech with inspiring and hopeful words that illuminated the end of the virus. He concluded, “We’re Americans. We get knocked out, we get back up.”

“We can do this. We brought our economy back to life and kept going. We know we can send our kids back to school. We know we can beat this virus. We can do this. We all just have to do our part,” he continued. “My fellow Americans, this nation has never failed. We have come together as the United States of America. So I say to all those unvaccinated, please, please get vaccinated.”

Anoosha Murtaza

Anoosha Murtaza is a Gen Z Voice at the Pavlovic Today and a rising third-year student at the University of Virginia. Anoosha has a passion for good journalism, strong political views, and social justice.