Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, President Biden said vaccinated Americans could safely celebrate the holidays with family and friends. He urged those who are unvaccinated to get the COVID shot, saying they had an obligation to the country — a "patriotic duty" — to do so.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: How concerned should you be about Omicron? Which is now the dominant variant in this country and it happened so quickly. The answer's straightforward. If you're not fully vaccinated, you have good reason to be concerned. You're at a high risk of getting sick. And if you get sick, you're likely to spread it to others, including friends and family.
The unvaccinated have a significantly higher risk of ending up in a hospital, or even dying. Almost everyone who has died from COVID-19 in the past many months has been unvaccinated. Unvaccinated. But if you're among the majority of Americans who are fully vaccinated, and especially if you've gotten the booster shot, that third shot, you're much-- you have much, much less reason to worry. You have a high degree of protection against severe illness.
But because Omnicom spreads so easily, we'll see some fully vaccinated people get COVID, potentially in large numbers. There will be positive cases in every office-- even here in the White House among the vaccinated. Among the vaccinated-- from Omicron. But these cases are highly unlikely to lead to serious illness. Vaccinated people who get COVID may get ill, but they're protected from severe illness and death. That's why you should still remain vigilant.
According to our doctors, even if you're fully vaccinated you should wear a mask when indoors and in public settings. Wearing a mask provides extra protection for you and those around you. And I know some Americans are wondering if you can safely celebrate the holidays with your family and friends. The answer is, yes, you can. If you and those you celebrate with are vaccinated, particularly if you've gotten your booster shot.
If you are vaccinated and follow the precautions that we all know well, you should feel comfortable celebrating Christmas and the holidays as you planned it. You know, you've done the right thing. You can enjoy the holiday season. And thanks to the progress on vaccinations this fall, we've gone from nearly 90 million adults in July who had not even started their vaccination process to fewer than 40 million today. Still too many, but down from 90 to 40.
All these people who have not been vaccinated, you have an obligation to yourselves, to your family, and quite frankly-- I know I'll get criticized for this-- to your country. Get vaccinated now. It's free. It's convenient. I promise you, it saves lives. And I honest to God believe it's your patriotic duty.