President Biden to address vaccine mandates, state of COVID-19 pandemic

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(NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden will address the country’s coronavirus response Thursday, where he is expected to touch on the debate over his sweeping vaccination mandates and the potential approval of booster shots.

The Biden administration’s vaccination mandate would make employers with 100 or more workers require coronavirus vaccinations or institute weekly virus testing. The mandate has prompted backlash from governors and employers alike.

Biden had ruled out such requirements before taking office in January but said he feels forced into implementing them as a large part of the public has refused to be inoculated and has jeopardized the lives of others and the nation’s economic recovery.

“There is no other way to beat the pandemic than to get the vast majority of the American people vaccinated,” Biden said an event promoting the mandates last week. “While I didn’t race to do it right away, that’s why I’ve had to move toward requirements.”

President Biden is set to deliver an update on the country’s coronavirus response and vaccination efforts Thursday morning. NewsNation will live stream his remarks in the player above.

In the coming weeks, more than 100 million Americans will be subject to vaccine requirements ordered by Biden. And his administration is encouraging employers to take additional steps voluntarily that would push vaccines on people or subject them to onerous testing requirements.

This comes as the Food and Drug Administration is set to meet this week to discuss whether an extra dose of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 should be dispensed and, if so, who should get them and when.

The White House and its top medical advisers announced sweeping plans in August to offer boosters to nearly all adults, citing signs of waning protection and the then-surging delta variant. But they were rebuffed by many experts who said there is little data showing whether such broad use would stop breakthrough infections or curb the overall trajectory of cases.

Last month, the FDA authorized booster shots of Pfizer’s vaccine for older Americans and other groups with heightened vulnerability to COVID-19. It’s part of a sweeping effort by the Biden administration to shore up protection amid the delta variant and potential waning vaccine immunity.

Adding to the complexity is whether it’s OK to use a booster that’s a different brand than someone’s initial shots. Preliminary results of a U.S. government study suggest that mixing and matching boosters will work at least as well — and maybe far better for J&J recipients. Those people had a stronger immune response if they got either a Moderna or Pfizer shot as their booster than if they received another dose of the J&J vaccine, according to results posted online Wednesday. Mix-and-match is also up for discussion by the FDA panel this week.

While the FDA and CDC ultimately scaled back use of Pfizer boosters, Biden administration officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have suggested that extra shots will eventually be recommended for most Americans.

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