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Biden calls on employers to offer paid leave for vaccinations

Biden touts 200 million vaccinations milestone
Biden touts 200 million COVID-19 vaccinations milestone 02:35

Washington — President Biden on Wednesday announced the nation is poised to meet his goal of administering 200 million coronavirus vaccine doses before his 100th day in office and urged U.S. employers to provide paid time off for workers to get their vaccines as part of efforts to boost demand for the shots.

As the pace of vaccinations has accelerated over the past few weeks and with supply beginning to outpace demand, Mr. Biden announced new tax incentives for small and medium-sized businesses to provide leave for their employees for when they receive their vaccinations and for recovery from any side effects.

"No working American should lose a single dollar from their paycheck because they chose to fulfill their patriotic duty to get vaccinated," the president said in remarks from the White House.

Mr. Biden also announced the nation is set to meet his goal of 200 million vaccine doses by his 92nd day in office, eight days ahead of his 100-day timeline.

Biden calls on employers to offer paid leave for vaccinations 12:47

"This is an American achievement, a powerful demonstration of unity and resolve, what unity will do for us, and a reminder of what we can accomplish when we pull together as one people for a common goal," he said.

The tax credit announced by Mr. Biden will fully offset the costs for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees who provide the benefit. Designed to incentivize certain employers to offer the paid leave, the tax credit is part of the president's $1.9 trillion economic relief package enacted last month. Eligible employers can be reimbursed up to $511 per day per employee for COVID vaccine-related time off.

The Biden administration is not issuing mandates to companies regarding vaccinations and is instead leaving such decisions to employers, a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 216 million vaccine doses have been administered, including those given under the Trump administration, and over half of all U.S. adults have received at least one of their shots. One in three adults were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday.

But administration officials said just 43% of working adults have been inoculated, a figure that is driving the Biden administration's focus on making it easier for this population to get their vaccines.

The Biden administration has rolled out a host of initiatives designed to boost access to the COVID-19 vaccines and accelerate the pace of administering them, partnering with retail pharmacies and community health centers to ensure they are equitably distributed.

Demand has now begun to overtake supply, and Mr. Biden said his administration is exploring what can be done with extra doses, including sending it to other countries.

The government, he said, wants to "make sure they are safe to be sent, and we hope to be able to be of some help and value to countries around the world."

Mr. Biden suggested the U.S. would be sending surplus vaccine doses to Canada and said he spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about providing assistance.

"We don't have enough to be confident to send it abroad now, but I expect we're going to be able to do that," he said.

While vaccination rates continue to rise, some states, like Michigan, have experienced a recent spike in infections, leaving federal health officials to remind members of the public to remain vigilant in following mitigation measures to combat the spread of the virus. Despite those warnings, at least a dozen states have rolled back their mask mandates, while others are easing capacity restrictions on indoor establishments.

While the nation is approaching 200 million doses of the coronavirus vaccines administered in Mr. Biden's first 100 days, the vaccine program has not been without issues. The Food and Drug Administration and the CDC last week recommended a pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine after six women who received the shot developed a rare blood-clot disorder. All 50 states swiftly halted administration of Johnson & Johnson's shot.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Mr. Biden's chief medical adviser, said Sunday on "Face the Nation" that a decision on resuming Johnson & Johnson's vaccine should be made by the end of the week and suggested the vaccine could come back online with restrictions over who can receive it.

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