President Biden Announces New Plan to Get Boosters to 100 Million Americans to Fight Omicron Variant


With the threat posed by the Omicron variant still uncertain, early next week the US will tighten pre-departure testing protocols by requiring all inbound international travelers to test within one day of departure, regardless of nationality or vaccination status. There is a new urgency to the effort after the first US case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was identified in California on Wednesday and the second one in Minnesota on Thursday.

The emergence of Omicron has demonstrated the tenacity of the virus, and President Joe Biden announced new actions to combat the coronavirus in the US, including a nationwide campaign encouraging vaccine boosters, an expansion of at-home tests, and tighter restrictions on international travel. The President visited the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, on Thursday and laid out a pandemic battle plan for the winter months. “My plan pulls no punches,” President Biden said “It is a plan that should unite us.”

President Biden pledged to expand pharmacy availability during December while pharmacy partners send millions of texts, calls, and emails to eligible customers with information on how to schedule an appointment or walk-in for a booster shot. He also announced steps to ensure that the nearly 100 million eligible Americans who have not yet received their booster shot do so as soon as possible.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden on Covid-19, told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that boosting was “very important”, particularly when considering the rise in antibodies following a third dose. “Even though we don’t have a lot of data on it, there’s every reason to believe that kind of increase that you get with the boost would be helpful at least in preventing severe disease of a variant like Omicron,” Dr. Fauci said.

The President unveiled actions to get more children aged five and older vaccinated. These include the launch of hundreds of family vaccination clinics across the country, offering a “one-stop-shop” of first shots for parents, teenagers, and children, and boosters for those eligible. There will be “family vaccination days” with hundreds of community health centers across the country hosting family vaccination clinics throughout December. President Biden also set out a plan to ensure that Americans have access to free at-home testing. More than 150 million people with private insurance will be able to get at-home tests reimbursed; for those not covered, at-home tests will be distributed through health centers and rural clinics.

The White House pointed out that when President Biden was inaugurated last January, more than half of schools were closed, whereas today 99% are fully open and in person.

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