The White House recently tweeted that when President Joe Biden took office, “there was no vaccine available.” After widespread pushback on social media, he retracted the claim.
On May 12, the official White House Twitter account sent out a cheep which said in part that “when President Biden took office…there was no vaccine available” for COVID-19.
The tweet drew widespread attention, with critics noting, among other things, that Biden himself had received his first vaccine on December 21, 2020, about a month before he was sworn in.
On May 13, the White House retracted its original statement, tweeting“We previously wrongly said the vaccines were not available in January 2021. We should have said they were not widely available. The vaccines became available shortly before the president took office. Since then, he is responsible for fully vaccinating more than 200 millions of people”.
The White House botched its first attempt to frame his vaccine record. While coronavirus vaccines were often difficult for ordinary Americans to obtain, they did exist and were administered.
The first vaccination was given to an employee of the Long Island Jewish Medical Center on December 14, 2020, or six days before Biden received his first vaccination.
Initially, health care workers were among the few categories of Americans allowed to receive a vaccine.
On December 22, 2020, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made his recommendations for allocating COVID-19 vaccines at a time when production was ramping up for the first time. The idea was to target available vaccines to those who were most at risk.
“Phase 1a” was reserved for health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities, or about 24 million people. In “Phase 1b,” vaccines would be reserved for people over the age of 75 and “essential frontline workers” outside of the health care context, a number estimated at 49 million. In “Phase 1c,” the vaccine would be given to people between the ages of 65 and 74, or younger people with certain “high-risk medical conditions,” totaling some 129 million people.
The actual prioritization decisions were made individually by stateand many states experienced challenges in the distribution and allocation of the vaccines they had received, both before and after Biden took office.
On January 8, or 12 days before Biden took office, Associated Press reported that of 21.4 million doses distributed, only around 5.9 million have been administered. At the time, the vast majority of doses would have been given to healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities, or other very elderly Americans.
The data shows that vaccinations accelerated during the first months of the Biden presidency. In total, in the 37 days leading up to Biden’s inauguration, 21.3 million doses were administered. In Biden’s first 37 days in office, 60.5 million doses were administered, or nearly triple the number in the equivalent period before he took office.
The White House said: “When President Biden took office…there was no vaccine available.”
A vaccine existed before Biden took office. In fact, Biden himself got his first shot at it about a month before he took office. In all, more than 20 million injections were administered while Trump was president.
That said, the idea that the vaccine was not “widely available,” as the White House’s corrected tweet puts it, has better support. Initially, only frontline and health care workers, along with the oldest Americans, were eligible. It was several months into the Biden presidency before Americans who were neither elderly nor immunocompromised could get vaccinated.
We rate the statement as False.