WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden received his second Covid booster shot Wednesday following a new CDC recommendation as he urged Congress to pass another package of Covid funding.
“Americans are back to living their lives again. We can’t surrender that now, Congress please act. You have to act immediately," Biden said in call for more funding to buy treatments and vaccines. "The consequences of inaction are severe, they only grow with time, but it doesn’t have to be that way."
Biden received his fourth shot of the Pfizer vaccine before a group of reporters and photographers a day after the CDC recommended people ages 50 and older receive a second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after studies showed a decrease in protection over time.
Biden urged Congress to provide billions of dollars more in Covid funding as public health experts predict the U.S. could be on track to see another wave of Covid infections.
Biden said the U.S. currently has enough vaccine supply to give another round of booster shots to those 50 and over, but wouldn't have the money to offer a second booster for free to younger Americans if the CDC were to make that recommendation. The U.S. also wouldn't have the money to buy a new variant-specific vaccine should that be necessary in the future without additional funds from Congress.
"If we fail to invest, we leave ourselves vulnerable if another wave of the virus hits," Biden said.
Biden also said he will be making a decision soon on whether to extend Title 42, a Trump era measure that allows the U.S. to block entry of immigrants seeking to come into the country citing a public health emergency.
Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have continued to try to work out a deal on a new Covid funding package after $15.6 billion in funds for treatment, testing and vaccines was stripped from a government spending package earlier this month. but it remains unclear whether a deal will be reached before Congress leaves for recess at the end of next week. Republicans have been pushing the administration for more details on what funding is still available from previous Covid funding bills.
Biden also announced the launch of a government-run website Wednesday where people can access information about tests, vaccines, treatments and the latest on the pandemic in communities across the country.
Biden highlighted the new website’s "test-to-treat" locator, which helps people find pharmacies and community health centers where they can get tested for Covid and receive treatment if needed. Biden said 2,000 of those sites are already up and running.
The website’s unveiling comes as the BA.2 omicron subvariant of Covid has now become the dominant strain of the disease in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.
The administration has requested that Congress pass $22.5 billion in emergency funding for Covid response. The White House said Wednesday in a release about the website that because Congress hasn't approved the emergency funding, the U.S. is already suffering the consequences, having to end a program that provides free testing and treatment to the uninsured and scaling back shipments of monoclonal antibodies.
The White House noted that the information offered on the new website will also be available on a national telephone hotline. The website has links that allow people to order free Covid tests, find locations where they can get vaccinated and obtain high-quality masks for free.
“We’re now in a new moment in this pandemic, it does not mean that Covid-19 is over. It means Covid-19 no longer controls our lives. That’s what it means,” Biden said. “Cases are ticking up as we thought they might. But now, thanks to the foundation we’ve laid, America has the tools to protect its people.”