Jill Biden Makes Visit to Hawaii to Praise Teachers, Encourage Vaccinations: 'Help Us Move Past This Virus'
"I'm here to ask everyone listening right now, to choose to get vaccinated," Dr. Biden, 70, said while visiting a pop-up vaccination clinic at a school in Waipahu on Sunday.
Speaking about how COVID has become "more contagious than ever" due to new variants, the first lady said this latest push to get people vaccinated "seems the hardest of all."
"If you've only had one shot you need to get another," Dr. Biden said, adding: "Help us move past this virus once and for all."
The first lady also used her remarks at the school to speak to fellow educators about the challenges of the pandemic.
"Before we start this year, I want to say thank you for all that you did last year — and it was difficult," Biden said. "There were times when you probably wondered if you were going to really make it through all the chaos, but you did what educators do best: You made something out of nothing. You persevered and you supported your students."
Dr. Biden has made several stops throughout the country in recent months to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Last month, she and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff stopped in Texas, which has one of the lowest percentages of people who have been vaccinated in the country.
"The numbers are low here," Biden told reporters at Minute Maid Park in Houston, where the two watched a few innings of the Houston Astros vs. Baltimore Orioles game. "I think 40 percent of all Texans are vaccinated, so that's, you know, the president and the vice president, Doug and I care about the American people about their health. So that's why I'm here."
Pleas for Americans to get their shots have grown stronger in recent weeks, particularly as the highly contagious Delta variant spikes in regions with low numbers of vaccinated people.
According to the CDC, more than 97% of those currently hospitalized for severe COVID-19 infections are unvaccinated. The current average of approximately 26,000 new cases per day is up 70% from the previous week, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, who spoke in a recent press briefing. Hospitalizations are also up (36%), while COVID-19 deaths are up 26%.
While cases of the virus had gone down steeply as vaccines were rolled out around the world, they've shot up in recent weeks, with the CDC currently warning of a "pandemic of the unvaccinated."
Even with cases of the virus and hospitalizations on the rise, vaccinations have become a dividing line in the U.S., with some Americans choosing not to get vaccinated despite the scientific consensus that the COVID vaccine is extremely safe and extremely effective.