President Joe Biden got an updated COVID-19 booster on Tuesday as he unveiled his administration’s plan to promote the updated shots.
The updated booster shots became available early last month, and in the nearly six weeks since, a small percentage of Americans have gotten the shot. The shots were updated to include protection against the omicron variant of COVID-19.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 20 million Americans have gotten an updated COVID-19 booster, meaning less than 8% of those ages 12 and up are up-to-date on their shots.
“Get vaccinated. Update your COVID vaccine. It’s incredibly effective, but the truth is, not enough people are getting it. We’ve got to change that so we can all have a safe and healthy holiday season,” Biden said.
Overall, about 216 million Americans are eligible for the shot as those who have completed their primary series can get the updated booster.
The White House said the government will release advertisements in many local markets to “highlight the importance of getting the updated vaccine to protect the ones we love and the protection the updated COVID-19 vaccines offer against omicron.” The government will also host pop-up clinics at venues such as Head Start locations, nursing homes, and community health centers around the country.
The Biden administration said it is working with national pharmacy chains such as Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens, who will promote the vaccines through “texts, calls, and emails to customers, multimedia marketing campaigns, and a range of incentives.”
Biden, who was previously vaccinated and boosted, was not initially eligible for the updated COVID-19 booster. Guidelines say those with past COVID-19 infections should wait 60 days before getting the updated booster.
The vaccine has been made available for free through government funds since the start of the pandemic. However, Congress has rejected efforts to fund future rounds of COVID-19 vaccines.
It’s unclear when funds will run out, but last week, Pfizer reportedly said it would charge between $110 and $130 for its mRNA vaccine after the government stops paying for them.