Almost 100 percent of Americans need to be vaccinated before the country can safely return to normal, President Joe Biden claimed Monday.
Biden said that “97%, 98%” is the goal as a country during his much-publicized appointment to receive a COVID-19 booster shot Monday. He offered no explanation for the number. Medical experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have predicted that herd immunity would only require 70% to 85% of Americans to be vaccinated.
The White House has been pushing for some vaccinated Americans to receive booster shots. (RELATED: America Will ‘Hopefully’ Reach Herd Immunity By End Of Summer, Fauci Says)
REPORTER: “How many Americans need to be vaccinated for us to get back to normal?”
BIDEN: “97%, 98%. I think we’ll get awful close. But I’m not the scientist. I think one thing is for certain. A quarter of the country can’t go unvaccinated and us not continue to have a problem.” pic.twitter.com/oT0zRXxpJo
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) September 27, 2021
The president did not explain where he got those numbers from and the White House did not provide a source for the claim by press time.
Biden’s statement clashed with predictions from medical experts earlier this year.
“We anticipate, and again it’s purely a speculation, that the herd immunity level will be about 70-85 percent,” Fauci said in March. “That’s the time that we believe, if you look at the planned rollout of the vaccines, that we would hopefully get to that point somewhere by the end of the summer and the early fall.”
As of late September 2021, roughly 55% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated. The Biden administration is pushing those Americans to receive booster shots within several months of their last vaccination dose. The CDC approved a Pfizer vaccine booster in mid-September for Americans over age 65, or those who face particular danger from COVID-19, like the immunocompromised.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky overruled her advisers late Thursday night and ordered that frontline workers also be recommended to receive the booster shot.
“This updated interim guidance from CDC allows for millions of Americans who are at highest risk for COVID-19 to receive a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot to help increase their protection,” the CDC said in a statement early Friday.
It remains unclear how long booster shots will be necessary, as Fauci has repeatedly stated that the U.S. could face bouts of COVID-19 almost indefinitely, much like the seasonal flu.
“So it is conceivable that as we go on, a year or two or more from now, that during certain seasonal periods when you have respiratory-borne viruses like the flu, people might actually elect to wear masks to diminish the likelihood that you’ll spread these respiratory-borne diseases,” he said in May.