AP FACT CHECK: Biden admin wrong on vaccine pace, elderly
ZEKE MILLER and CALVIN WOODWARD
Wed, March 10, 2021, 6:05 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) — For an administration that prides itself on talking straight about the pandemic, the self-congratulation Wednesday went too far.
President Joe Biden wrongly claimed the U.S. vaccinated a record 2.9 million people on Saturday while his special adviser on the pandemic exaggerated the share of older Americans who've been fully immunized.
A look at how their statements compare with the facts:
BIDEN: “On Saturday, we hit a record of 2.9 million vaccinations in one day in America.”
ANDY SLAVITT, special adviser to the White House virus task force: “On Saturday, we set an all-time, single-day record: nearly 3 million Americans vaccinated — a pace seen nowhere else in the world.” — leading off a task force briefing.
THE FACTS: The claim is off base.
The government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 2.9 million doses were recorded Saturday but that total comes from multiple days of vaccinations. Only 1.56 million doses were administered Saturday, as currently reported by the CDC.
That's far from a one-day record. The most productive day for vaccinations was Feb. 26, when 2.8 million doses were administered.
Although vaccinations have greatly increased overall in recent weeks, Saturday's total is barely above the number of doses administered the day Biden took office.
SLAVITT: “In terms of protecting the most vulnerable — our core duty as a nation — when we came into office, 8% of people over 65 were vaccinated. Today, 60% are vaccinated. And according to the CDC’s new guidance, vaccinated parents can now visit and hug their grandchildren — and, in most circumstances, without wearing a mask.”
THE FACTS: This is wrong. He is counting people who have received only their first dose as immune and able to mingle. Public health officials stress that only fully vaccinated people can safely be around each other and low-risk people without the distancing and masking recommended for the population at large.
The CDC says 61% of people over 64 have received at least one dose but only 31% are fully vaccinated.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each require two doses, spread several weeks apart. The newer Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose. In all cases, it takes two weeks to build immunity after being fully vaccinated.