Money, vaccines and equity: Here are Biden’s town hall COVID updates

In the recent town hall, President Biden gave an update on COVID-19 vaccines. He said that “by the end of July, there will be enough doses available for every American.”

At almost 500,000 Americans dead from COVID-19 and millions out of work, the President has been speaking with Pfizer and Moderna vaccine manufacturers to increase supply to 600 million doses. He also said that the National Defense Act has been able to help hospitals get more equipment. Biden also issued an executive order that allows retired doctors and nurses to help vaccinate people due to the shortage of vaccinators.

The President clarified to say that not every American will be vaccinated by July, but that there will be vaccines available.

According to The COVID Tracking Project, the U.S. has over 27 million cases, with 62,300 people currently hospitalized, and 483,223 deaths. Still, new COVID-19 hospitalizations have fallen by half in the last month and new cases have also fallen, the risk is still high for many Americans and people still want to get back to normal.

The release of the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be a big deal. It could increase the vaccine supply significantly so that the priority groups can all get vaccinated more quickly and other groups can begin getting vaccinated.

The President spent some time clearing up a lot of misconceptions about the vaccine. People are concerned that the vaccine will not be effective on the new strain of COVID-19, but the President assures that there is no evidence to show that it is not helpful. “Take the vaccine.” Any protection is better than no protection. The President has been working with the Black caucus in Congress to assure communities of color that the vaccines are safe, considering the history of unethical medical practices on communities of color. He also is working to make sure that vaccine sites are set up in Black and Latino neighborhoods and are well-equipped. Another concern of the President’s is that there are too many people who do not know how to set up a vaccine appointment and there are inefficiencies in the communication systems between manufacturers down to the individual getting the vaccine. 

At the town hall, a young woman was worried that her son, who has severe lung complications, has yet to be vaccinated, while in other states, young people who have no medical issues are getting vaccinated. It is an unfortunate issue, but “states have the final say in who gets the vaccine,” says the President. “I can’t go to the states and say to change priority groups, I can only control federal programs.”

Finally, when asked about when things will get back to normal, the President made it clear he was not promising anything. Being optimistic, he believes that the situation will look different than it does a year from now. He hopes that holidays and travel can resume at least by the end of the year. He also hopes that with more vaccines and as more people get vaccinated, a herd immunity can be accomplished.

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