White House urges Americans to discuss COVID-19 vaccines over Thanksgiving

The White House on Tuesday encouraged Americans to talk about vaccination against COVID-19 at the Thanksgiving table, insisting that widespread vaccination could prevent almost every coronavirus death in the country.

At a news conference, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha unveiled the Biden administration’s plan for a “six-week sprint” to convince Americans to get the updated COVID-19 vaccine shots before the end of the year. The campaign includes hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding for community health centers to increase the pace of immunizations, but Jha said every American needs to “get stronger” and engage in immunization conversations, too.

“The bottom line is that we’re doing everything we can over the next six weeks to help families get their updated COVID records by the end of the year because that’s the best protection this winter,” Jha said, adding adding that this is the latest iteration of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is a “once-a-year shot,” similar to the flu shot.

“Although I am heartened by the work of so many, we all need to stand up. We need to make protecting our loved ones an important part of the conversation we’re having around the Thanksgiving table, an important part of the conversation we’re going to be having in the days and weeks to come,” he continued. “Because here’s what we know that if people get their updated vaccines and are treated if they have a breakthrough infection, we can essentially prevent every COVID death in America.”

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White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr.  Ashish Jha speaks during a daily news briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on October 14.  25th, 2022, in Washington.

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha speaks during a daily news briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on October 14. 25th, 2022, in Washington.
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks alongside White House Medical Advisor Dr.  Anthony Fauci and COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr.  Ashish Jha during a COVID-19 briefing at the White House on 11-22-2022 in Washington.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks alongside White House Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci and COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha during a COVID-19 briefing at the White House on 11-22-2022 in Washington.
(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Jha urged every American to get both the COVID and flu shots, echoing his controversial September remark: “That’s why God gave you two arms, one in each arm.”

The Biden administration’s six-week COVID-19 immunization campaign aims to reach communities “hardest hit by COVID-19” through paid media and new vaccination sites.

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The Department of Health and Human Services is spending $350 million to expand local immunization efforts at community health centers and another $125 million for efforts to vaccinate older Americans and people with disabilities, according to a White House fact sheet.

White House officials said there had been a significant spike in COVID-19 infections in 2020 and 2021 as the winter months began, and they want to prevent an expected spike in 2022 as well.

White House Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke at Tuesday’s news conference, where he delivered his “final message” before stepping down at the end of the year.

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President Biden receives his updated COVID-19 reinforcement in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus on October 27.  25th, 2022, in Washington.

President Biden receives his updated COVID-19 reinforcement in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus on October 27. 25th, 2022, in Washington.
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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Fauci emphasized the safety and effectiveness of approved COVID-19 vaccines in preventing serious illness and death, and encouraged Americans to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. Noting that the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine diminishes over time, he said the disease shouldn’t be compared to other vaccine-treatable diseases like measles because new variants emerge every few months.

“My message, and my last message could be the last message I give you from this podium, is that for your own safety and that of your family, please get your updated COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you are eligible, to protect yourself, your family and your community,” Fauci said. “I urge you to visit Vaccine.gov to find a place where you can easily obtain an updated vaccine, and please do so as soon as possible.”

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