President Biden underlined three messages in his address to Americans on the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus:
The variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.
“We have the best vaccine in the world, the best medicines, the best scientists, and we’re learning more every single day,” he said Monday. “We’ll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion.”
The best protection against Omicron is the vaccine.
“I know you’re tired of hearing me say this, the best protection against this new variant or any of the variants out there, the ones we’ve been dealing with already, is getting fully vaccinated and getting a booster shot,” he said.
If you’re 18 years or older and got fully vaccinated before June 1, go get the booster shot today, he told Americans.
“They are free and they are available at 80,000 locations coast to coast,” he added. “Do not wait. Go get your booster if it’s time for you to do so.”
He also emphasized that children who are 5 years and older should be vaccinated.
If vaccines need to be updated to fight Omicron, the US will act fast.
Scientists are currently racing to determine if the existing vaccines provide adequate protection against the Omicron variant. In the case they don’t, Biden said the US will act fast to update its vaccine supplies.
“In the event, hopefully unlikely, that updated vaccinations or boosters are needed to respond to this new variant, we will accelerate their development and deployment with every available tool,” he said.
“We do not yet believe that additional measures will be needed,” he added. “But so that we are prepared, if needed, my team is already working with officials at Pfizer and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans for vaccines or boosters if needed.”
“I will also direct the FDA and the CDC to use the fastest process available without cutting any corners for safety to get such vaccines approved and on the market if needed.”