“This virus is going to be with us forever”

During Friday’s White House press conference, COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha urged unvaccinated Americans to get vaccinated, saying, “This virus is going to be with us forever. .

Video Transcript

Dr. Jha, the CDC says 1/3 of Americans still haven’t been fully vaccinated. And you mentioned, I think you did, to The New York Times that Congress still hasn’t allocated enough funds for recalls in the fall. What’s your message to Congress if it doesn’t allocate funds for recalls in the fall? And also, what is your message to Americans who still refuse to get vaccinated? And I have another question after that.

ASHISH JHA: Yeah, so let’s start by talking to the Americans. I think what we’re seeing across the country is that there are a lot of infections. But when people are vaccinated and boosted, they tend to have much less severe disease. This virus is going to be with us forever. It is really very important for people to build their immunity against this virus. And so I’ve been very clear for years — I mean, two years, or a year and a half, I guess, since we’ve had vaccines — that getting vaccinated is one of the best ways that dispose people to protect themselves.

In Congress, you know, what I would say is that Congress has been a great partner to this administration in terms of funding the COVID response, making sure vaccines and treatments are widely available. And that’s one of the reasons we have a lot of vaccines right now. But the problem is that we have to continue this effort. The reason we have seen so much progress is because we have had the resources to do the things that are necessary for the American people. And if we take our foot off the accelerator and stop all this work we’re doing, we’ll go backwards. And we don’t want that.

And we can do a lot in administration, but we need funding to do all of those things. And Congress is the part of our government that allocates funds. So my message to Congress is that it’s really important to continue to protect the American people. As fall and winter approach, we will need more resources. We need resources now to prepare for fall and winter. And it’s really important that Congress step in and do its part.