US President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden encouraged people to get their COVID-19 vaccines and shared messages of hope during the broadcast of VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World on Saturday.
The president and first lady spoke movingly about the toll that the pandemic has taken on families, but asked viewers to look forward to a future in which herd immunity restores a sense of normalcy.
“We know just how difficult the last year has been, we really do,” President Biden said. “The loss of life, the loss of our way of life, birthdays, graduations, all the milestones we missed, and the simple pleasures we’ve had to forgo to keep our loved ones safe.”
“But these moments — meeting your newborn grandchild, or holding a loved one's hand through a hard time, gathering with friends or smiling at a stranger without wearing a mask — when you get vaccinated, you don’t have to miss them any longer,” Dr. Biden said. “Every person vaccinated is helping to save lives and give us back those moments that we’ve missed so much.”
The US announced in April that it will share up to 60 million vaccine doses with other countries. On May 5, President Biden went even further in his advocacy for vaccine equity by announcing his support for waiving patent restrictions around COVID-19 vaccines. Advocates say that lifting these restrictions will vastly increase the pace of vaccine production, accelerating the timeline for global herd immunity.
“We’re working with leaders around the world to share more vaccines and boost production to make sure every country has the vaccines they need,” Biden said during VAX LIVE.
The White House’s “We Can Do This” campaign was launched in April to spread awareness of the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, help communities overcome vaccine hesitancy, and, more broadly, unify the nation around the common cause of achieving herd immunity and keeping one another safe.
The campaign has included TV and online ads as well as community out-reach events. Everyday citizens have been invited to join the “COVID-19 Community Corps” to help encourage their community members to get vaccinated and adhere to health guidelines, and local officials can leverage pre-made content tailored to specific demographics through an archive.
More than 45% of the US population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 33% of the population is fully vaccinated.
In recent weeks, the pace of vaccinations has slowed in nearly every state across the country. Health officials say that the decline is partly due to the fact that the people who got vaccinated first were the most eager and informed. Now further outreach is needed to encourage and support people who are either hesitant about vaccines or don’t have the ability to make appointments.
Roughly 1 in 5 Americans say they will not get vaccinated, according to a survey by Monmouth University, a rate of avoidance that threatens the country’s pursuit of herd immunity.
Biden, who received his second vaccine dose on Jan. 11, vouched for the safety of vaccine safety and called on Americans to come together.
“We can’t let up now,” President Biden said. “The vaccines are safe, I promise you they’re safe. They work. Everyone in America 16 years old and older is now eligible to get vaccinated for free now. If we can get this done, we won’t have to miss another moment.”
As part of Global Citizen’s Recovery Plan for the World campaign, VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World brought together artists, entertainers, world leaders, and more to ensure equitable vaccine distribution around the world, tackle COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, and celebrate a hopeful future.
You can still catch the concert on the Global Citizen YouTube channel and on various channels and platforms. Be sure to join us in taking action to end the pandemic and ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to COVID-19 vaccines. Then, head to our multimedia hub VAX BECAUSE to join candid conversations about the pandemic and find answers to your biggest questions about the vaccines.
Want to take home part of the show? Check out our VAX LIVE merch at the Global Citizen official store.