Biden gets Covid-19 booster shot on camera

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 5:22 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021
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4:33 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

"This is not about name and shame," CDC director says on reaching unvaccinated populations

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

Addressing unvaccinated communities means addressing questions and concerns about vaccinations — not shaming people into getting shots, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday.

“The unvaccinated population is not uniform. There are people who have been waiting for more data, so let us present the data that we have,” she said at the Atlantic Festival. 

“We have to inform people and give them the information that they need, we have to meet people where they are. This is not about blame and shame, this is about, help me understand what has made you reluctant," she continued.

Walensky said conversations like these are “hard work” but can result in swaying people in the direction of vaccination. 

“Let's get to a place where you feel less reluctant and even if, though, that conversation doesn't result in your rolling up your sleeves today, it may be one step closer to your rolling up your sleeves tomorrow," she said.

4:08 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

"It was an easy decision": McConnell announces he got a Covid-19 booster today

From CNN's Clare Foran 

(Senate TV)
(Senate TV)

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell announced in Senate floor remarks on Monday that he just received his Covid-19 booster.

“I’m glad to share that a few minutes ago I received a booster vaccination for Covid-19,” he said.

“It was an easy decision to receive a booster. I’m a survivor of childhood polio from before vaccines eradicated that disease here in our country and around the world so I’ve been a lifelong champion of vaccinations," McConnell said on the Senate floor.

“Like I’ve been saying for months, these safe and effective vaccines are the way to defend ourselves and our families from this terrible virus. They’re also how we stay on offense against Covid as a country. All Americans should speak with their doctors and get vaccinated,” he said.

McConnell's announcement came only hours after President Biden received a Covid-19 booster on camera at the White House.

"We know that to beat this pandemic and to save lives ... we need to get folks vaccinated," Biden said during remarks ahead of his shot. "So, please, please do the right thing. Please get these shots. It can save your life and it can save the lives of those around you."

CNN's Kate Sullivan and Jamie Gumbrecht contributed reporting to this post. 

3:36 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Additional Covid-19 vaccine doses are a "walk, don’t run" matter, CDC director says

From CNN's Virginia Langmaid

Dr. Rochelle Walensky
Dr. Rochelle Walensky (The Atlantic)

While an additional dose of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine has been authorized in certain populations, current vaccine effectiveness is still high, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday. 

“This is a walk, don't run, situation to go get your boost,” she said at the Atlantic Festival.

“The vaccine effectiveness is still working really quite well. And we are now doing the scientific diligence to make sure that we can review the data so that we can bring it to you before we get into trouble, but really after due process," she continued.

Walensky said the agency will review data on the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines when available. 

“Moderna is coming, J&J is coming, it will come to the FDA and they will treat it with urgency and then it'll come to the CDC, we will treat it with urgency. And that will come in the next couple of weeks,” she said. 

 “We have not forgotten about J&J and Moderna. We will be with you," she said.

2:18 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Here is what you should know about the Pfizer Covid-19 booster shot

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

A dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is prepared at a clinic in Reading, Pennsylvania, on September 22.
A dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is prepared at a clinic in Reading, Pennsylvania, on September 22. (Matt Rourke/AP)

President Biden just got his Covid-19 booster shot. Moments after on CNN, Dr. Megan Ranney answered some frequently asked questions about the vaccine.

Q: If you got a Moderna or a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, should you get the Pfizer booster shot?

Ranney says no.

"There's absolutely no data supporting that Moderna or J&J recipients would do well or there's safety behind getting a Pfizer shot at this point. We know we have data around the corner coming on Moderna boosters, which will likely be a lower dose than the original Moderna series. We also have a press release about J&J boosters that was really promising. But the even better news for Moderna and J&J recipients is that there's less evidence that those two vaccines have waned in efficacy against the Delta variant than there is for Pfizer."

Q: Should you be concerned about waning immunity if you received the Pfizer vaccine but are not yet eligible for the booster shot?

Ranney: No. "If you have received your first two shots of that Pfizer vaccine, you are so protected. You are not back to where we were in 2020 even if you don't receive a booster. Age 65-plus, please run out and go get that booster because there is waning immunity from you, but for the rest of us, including for Moderna and J&J recipients, we're in such a better space than we were a year ago."

Q: What should you do about the booster shot if you just had a breakthrough case?

Ranney says that question has not been definitively answered by the data yet.

"In many ways, that breakthrough infection likely served as your own natural booster. In general, we tell people not to get a shot while they're feeling sick. In theory, if you've made it through a breakthrough, you're a couple weeks out, you're no longer on isolation — sure you could get a booster. Is it likely to help you? We don't know."

1:23 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Biden will urge businesses implement vaccine mandates during Chicago trip this week

(Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
(Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

President Biden said he would travel to Chicago later this week to urge more private businesses implement vaccine requirements.

Biden said he's "moving forward with vaccination requirements wherever I can," but urged businesses to establish their own mandates.

"On Wednesday I'll be traveling to Chicago to talk about why it's so important that more businesses are instituting their own vaccine requirements," he said just before receiving his booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Earlier this month, Biden imposed stringent new vaccine rules on federal workers, large employers and healthcare staff in a sweeping attempt to contain the latest surge of Covid-19.

"We know that to beat that pandemic and to save lives, to keep our children safe, our schools open, our economy going, we need to get folks vaccinated. So, please, please do the right thing," he added.

1:17 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Biden: "Boosters are important" but getting more Americans vaccinated is "the most important thing"


President Biden made some remarks before getting his booster shot on camera today at the White House.

"Boosters are important, but the most important thing we need to do is get more people vaccinated," the President said.

He said that while the vast majority of Americans are "doing the right thing" and getting the Covid-19 vaccine, about 23% of eligible Americans haven't gotten any shot. He said that "distinct minority" is causing "an awful lot of damage for the rest of the country." 

"This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That's why I'm moving forward with vaccination requirements wherever I can," Biden said.

He said that on Wednesday he'll be traveling to Chicago to talk about why it's so important that more businesses are instituting their own vaccine requirements. 

1:15 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

NOW: President Biden gets his Covid-19 booster shot


President Biden is receiving his third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the White House during an on-camera event, just days after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the booster dose for certain Americans.

"Like I did in my first and second Covid-19 vaccination shot, I'm about to get my booster shot and do it publicly," Biden said before receiving the shot.

The CDC approved Pfizer boosters for people 65 and older, people in long-term care facilities, some people with underlying health conditions and adults at increased risk of Covid-19 because of their jobs.

Biden, who is 78 years old, said last week he planned to get his third dose soon.

“Hard to acknowledge I’m over 65, but I’ll be getting my booster shot,” Biden said on Friday.

The President received his first two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine ahead of his inauguration in January.

12:22 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Decision to recommend boosters for frontline workers was a "scientific close call," CDC director says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

The decision to recommend Covid-19 booster shots for people at occupational risk of infection was a “scientific close call,” US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Sunday.

Walensky recommended last week that six-month booster doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine go to people over 65 and people over 18 at high risk of severe disease because of underlying conditions such as cancer or diabetes.

Although the CDC’s vaccine advisers voted against recommending doses for people at high risk of infection because of their work or living conditions, Walensky went with the US Food and Drug Administration’s authorization including those people.

“And where there was some real scientific discussion and scientific close call was for those people who are at high risk … by virtue of where they live or where they work,” Walensky told CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday.

“And because of that close call, and because of all of the evidence we reviewed at the FDA and the CDC, I thought it was appropriate for those people to be eligible for boosters. So who are those people? People who live and work in high-risk settings. That includes people in homeless shelters, people in group homes, people in prisons. But, also, importantly, are people who work with vulnerable communities, so our healthcare workers, our teachers, our grocery workers, our public transportation employees,” she added.

That doesn’t yet include parents of children too young to be vaccinated.

“The recommendations were not intended for that population,” Walensky said. “It is really for people who are working all of the time with many different people who might be unvaccinated, might be at high risk, and really the vulnerable occupations like our healthcare workers, our teachers, our public transportation workers,” she added.

“Right now our recommendation is for these limited people in the population over 65, high-risk workers, high-risk occupations, as well as high risk by co-morbidities," she continued.

There’s little fear of causing dangerous side effects from adding that third dose, Walensky said.

“What I can tell you is so far in the 20,000 people we've looked at, the safety signals are exactly the same as what we have seen for the second dose. And we've vaccinated over 160 million people with mRNA vaccines in this country. We have an extraordinary amount of safety data," the CDC director.

1:07 p.m. ET, September 27, 2021

Where things stand now on Covid-19 boosters 

From CNN's Maggie Fox

A healthcare worker administers a Covid-19 booster shot at a senior living facility in Worcester, Pennsylvania.
A healthcare worker administers a Covid-19 booster shot at a senior living facility in Worcester, Pennsylvania. (Hannah Beier/Bloomber/Getty Images)

President Biden is set to receive a Covid-19 booster shot soon as he looks to continue to promote vaccinations across the country.

Vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention argued long and hard Thursday before endorsing giving booster doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine to people 65 and older, long-term care facility residents and certain people with underlying conditions.

However, the advisers voted against recommending a booster dose for people whose jobs or situations put them at high risk of vaccine breakthrough infection — rejecting part of the US Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization.

The FDA on Wednesday had authorized giving boosters to people 65 and older and those at higher risk of severe disease and death, as well as people such as health care workers at higher risk of breakthrough infections because of their work.

What could happen next: Third doses are already approved and recommended for some people who are immunocompromised and at high risk of severe disease from Covid-19.

The FDA's EUA only covered Pfizer's vaccine, with boosters going to those who got their first two doses of Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine at least six months ago. The FDA has not decided on Moderna's application for booster authorization, and Johnson & Johnson has not yet applied.

Dr. Peter Marks, who heads the FDA's vaccine branch, the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said there is no precise timeline yet for those vaccines.

"I think we understand at FDA the relative urgency here of trying to have a solution for anyone who's been vaccinated with any of the authorized or approved vaccines," Marks told the meeting.

"I can tell you that we will proceed with all due urgency to try to get there as rapidly as possible working with the various vaccine sponsors."