WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden received a Covid-19 booster shot Monday at the White House, just days after the CDC recommended a third shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for certain at-risk groups.
In a brief speech at the White House ahead of getting his third dose, the president said that "boosters are important, but the most important thing we need to do is get more people vaccinated."
The roughly 23 percent of Americans who have not received a single shot are "causing an awful lot of damage for the rest of the country," he said.
Biden, 78, received his second shot of the Pfizer vaccine on-camera in January. The new guidance says that people in the president's age range should get a booster shot six months after their second dose.
"I know it doesn’t look like it, but I am over 65," Biden said. "And that’s why I am getting my booster today."
First lady Jill Biden, 70, also received a booster shot Monday afternoon, her spokesperson Michael LaRosa said.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Friday endorsed a third shot of the Pfizer vaccine for people 65 and older and residents in long-term care settings, as well as people 50 to 64 years old who have an underlying medical condition.
She also surprised some by extending the endorsement to include essential workers such as teachers and grocery store employees, going further than the recommendations by a panel of CDC advisers.
The decision capped a highly unusual process in which top administration health officials in August announced a plan to start giving boosters this week before the career scientists at the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC had reviewed the data. But the officials said data from Israel and the United Kingdom showed troubling signs of waning protection, particularly in the elderly, and there was a need to act quickly.
Biden has said that ultimately his administration plans to offer a booster to all Americans. He has also said that scientists are working to review the data on booster shots for people who received the Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
More than 2 million people have already received a booster shot even though until Friday it was only recommended for those with immune system disorders, an indication that many Americans were not willing to wait for the CDC and the FDA's green light to receive an additional dose.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 79, announced Monday that he had also received a booster shot. As a polio survivor, McConnell said, "it was an easy decision to get a booster."
Biden said that Wednesday he will travel to Chicago to highlight the importance of businesses instituting vaccine requirements for their employees.