President Biden said the nation has administered 200 million COVID-19 vaccines in his first 100 days, and promoted a small businesses tax credit allowing paid leave for employees who get vaccinated.
“Today we hit 200 million shots,” he said at a Wednesday press conference.
Under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which Congress passed and Biden signed into law in March, businesses with 500 employees or fewer can claim a tax credit for as much as $511 a day for paid time off that they provide to their employees, and for up to ten days per employee for vaccinations and recovery time. The IRS has instructions on its website explaining the reimbursement process to small business owners.
“No working American should lose a single dollar from their paycheck because they chose to fulfill their patriotic duty of getting vaccinated,” Biden said, stressing that “every employee should get paid leave to get a shot, and businesses should know that they can provide it without a hit to their bottom line,” so “there’s no excuse for not getting it done.”
In his speech, Biden highlighted the Kroger supermarket chain, which announced in February that it would give its employees a one-time payment of $100 if they show proof of appropriate COVID-19 vaccination. He also applauded a Black-owned hair salon in Ohio that helped sign up minority residents in one county for vaccination.
But the president acknowledged that there are still people who are hesitant about the vaccine, or those who simply feel they are too young and healthy to need it. On April 19, the CDC expanded vaccine eligibility to everyone in the U.S., ages 16 years and up.
“No matter what your age, no matter what your health history, until you are fully vaccinated, you are still vulnerable. The vaccine can save your life,” he stated.
Biden also emphasized that getting the vaccine offers protection to the whole community: “Vaccines can save your own life, but they can also save your grandmother’s life … your coworker’s life, the grocery store clerk, or the delivery person helping you and your neighbors get through the crisis.”
The president’s initial goal of 100 million shots in 100 days was met on day 58 of his administration. Biden pointed out that if the pace of vaccination had not drastically accelerated from the time he took office, the goal of 200 million shots would not have been met until September.
While the vaccine rollout has been on the upswing, Biden stressed that people still need to remain vigilant (wear face masks, wash hands frequently, practice social distancing) and not let the virus erase the pandemic progress the country has made so far. If Americans “let up now,” they won’t be able to celebrate their independence from the virus on July 4 with small groups of family and friends, he cautioned.