President Joe Biden said during a CNN town hall event on Wednesday night that the CDC will likely say that everyone under the age of 12 should wear a mask in school because children under age 12 still are not eligible to be vaccinated.
“The CDC is going to say that what we should do is everyone … under the age of 12 should probably be wearing a mask in school. That’s probably what’s going to happen,” Biden told a teacher in the audience. “Secondly, those over the age of 12 who are able to get vaccinated, if you’re vaccinated, you shouldn’t wear a mask. If you aren’t vaccinated, you should be wearing a mask. So it’s going to get a little bit tight in terms of, well, are Mom or Dad being honest that, you know, Johnny did or did not get vaccinated. That’s going to raise questions.”
“But I think what’s going to happen is you’re going to see this work out in ways that people are going to know in the community,” Biden added. “Everybody knows in a community whether or not Johnny really did get the vaccination when he’s 15 or 17 years old. And so it’s going to — I think it’s — it’s a matter of community responsibility. And I think you’re going to see it work through.”
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: OK. I want to introduce you to Andrea Gianieri. She’s a community resource director for a charter school. She’s a Democrat currently running for her local school board. Andrea, welcome.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT: God love you. The most important, thankless job in the world, being on a school board.
ANDREA GIANIERI: Thank you. So here in Hamilton County, the vaccination rate remains at about 50 percent. And you talked about the virus that’s spreading. Masks are seen less and less, and as you know, children under age 12 still are not eligible to be vaccinated.
Schools are working with all of this information as they think about reopening next month. As a school employee, and as a parent to children under age 12, what I — I am really concerned. What is your message to those parents, educators, and school districts?
BIDEN: I understand your concern, I really do. My children are grown now, but my grandchildren — and I have one that’s only 1 1/2 years old. So, you know, I understand, number one.
My message is that one of the reasons — why you remember the criticism I got initially saying teachers should get vaccinations, get in line first. The vast majority of teachers are vaccinated, number one.
Number two, the CDC is going to say that what we should do is everyone over the age — under the age of 12 should probably be wearing a mask in school. That’s probably what’s going to happen.
Secondly, those over the age of 12 who are able to get vaccinated, if you’re vaccinated, you shouldn’t wear a mask. If you aren’t vaccinated, you should be wearing a mask. So it’s going to get a little bit tight in terms of, well, are Mom or Dad being honest that, you know, Johnny did or did not get vaccinated. That’s going to raise questions.
But I think what’s going to happen is you’re going to see this work out in ways that people are going to know in the community. Everybody knows in a community whether or not Johnny really did get the vaccination when he’s 15 or 17 years old. And so it’s going to — I think it’s — it’s a matter of community responsibility. And I think you’re going to see it work through.
LEMON: Well, let me ask you — let me follow up on that question and ask you, when will children under 12 be able to get vaccinated?
BIDEN: Soon, I believe. Now, look, one of the things that I committed to do when I got elected, I said I’ll–
LEMON: How soon is soon, Mr. President?
BIDEN: Well, I — let me finish the question — the answer. Soon in the sense that I do not tell any scientist what they should do. I do not interfere.
And so they are doing — they are doing the examinations now, the testing now, and making the decision now. When they are ready, when they’ve done all the scientific that needs to be done to determine — children at ages three, four, five, six, seven, and eight, they, in fact, are — all have different makeups.
They’re developing. They’re trying to figure out whether or not there’s a vaccination that would affect one child at such and such an age and not another child. That’s underway. Just like the other question that’s logical and I’ve heard you speak about it, because you all — I’m not being solicitous, but you’re always straight up about what you’re doing.
And the question is whether or not we should be in a position where you are — why can’t the experts say we know that this virus is, in fact — is going to be — or, excuse me — we know why all the drugs approved are not temporarily approved, but permanently approved. That’s underway, too. I expect that to occur quickly.
LEMON: Well, that — you mean for the FDA?
BIDEN: For the FDA — the Federal Drug Administration.
LEMON: You said that you’re talking to scientists. But what are they telling you, Mr. President?
BIDEN: What they’re telling me is let us decide based on scientific data and how we proceed. Do it the way we would ordinarily do it. Look, for example, everybody talks about how, you know, this virus came, this — the drugs that are designed to kill the virus came along so quickly. They’ve been working on it for two decades. There’s nothing quick about this. It’s been over two decades.
So people say, “I’m not taking a drug that was approved so quickly.” It’s been two decades. The truth is, we haven’t said it enough to people to allay their feels — their fears. This is nothing that just happened yesterday and we said, well, let’s take a shot on this.
And there’s a process. Usually the process takes the better part of a year or more to get some of these things decided. But the expectation — they’re not promising me any specific date, but my expectation talking to the group of scientists we’ve put together, over 20 of them, plus others in the field, is that sometime maybe in the beginning of the school year, at the end of August, beginning of September, October, they’ll get a final approval, saying the FDA said, no, this is it. It’s good.
But, again, one last thing. We don’t talk enough to you about this, I don’t think. One last thing that’s really important is, we’re not in the position where we think that any virus, including the Delta virus, which is much more transmissible and more deadly in terms of unvaccinated people, the — the various shots that people are getting now cover that. You’re OK. You’re not going to — you’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.
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