Biden urges unvaccinated to 'do the right thing,' after CDC boss defies panel over booster recommendations

Biden: Some Americans' refusal to get coronavirus shots 'has cost all of us'

President Biden made a plea to unvaccinated Americans on Friday, urging them to "do the right thing" and get a shot to protect themselves against COVID-19, hours after the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defied a vote from her advisory panel, which had recommended not to roll out booster shots to younger frontline workers.

The president, from the White House, said some Americans' refusals to get vaccinated "has cost all of us."

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a third booster shot of the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID vaccine for eligible individuals. The CDC this week announced eligible individuals included those who received their second dose of the vaccine six months ago, those over the age of 65, those over the age of 18 with an underlying health condition – and frontline workers at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure due to their profession. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky late Thursday endorsed the Pfizer booster shot for younger at-risk workers, which was seen as a rare break from the agency's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices panel.

Biden touted the "incredible progress" of vaccinations, with more than 182 million Americans fully vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna or one shot of Johnson & Johnson. 

But Biden stressed that this pandemic "is a pandemic of the unvaccinated." 

He went on, "Their refusal has cost all of us. The refusal to get vaccinated has cost all of us,", adding that he intended to move forward in mandating vaccinations wherever he can. 

The president, earlier this month, signed an executive order requiring all federal workers in the executive branch to be vaccinated, as well as another that mandated all private companies with more than 100 employees to require vaccinations. "These requirements will cover 2/3 of all workers in America," Biden said, adding that business leaders have called him and thanked him. "This gives them the ability to move forward." 


Biden, in his final plea, begged unvaccinated Americans to "do the right thing." 

The CDC panel had recommended the booster for Americans 65 and older and for those over 50 with underlying medical conditions, but voted against the younger at-risk worker recommendation Thursday. Walensky put it back in, noting that it aligned with the FDA booster authorization from earlier this week.


"As CDC director, it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact," Walensky said in a statement. "At CDC, we are tasked with analyzing complex, often imperfect data to make concrete recommendations that optimize health. In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good."

The younger at-risk group included teachers in addition to frontline medical workers.