Katherine DoyleFri, September 10, 2021, 2:49 PM·2 min readIn this article:
- Donald Trump45th President of the United States
- Joe Biden46th and current president of the United States
- Jen PsakiAmerican political advisor and White House press secretary
The White House said it was surprised by the strong opposition to COVID-19 vaccines approved under former President Donald Trump.
“We didn’t anticipate that when there was a vaccine approved under a Republican president, that the Republican president took, that there would be such hesitation, opposition, vehement opposition in some cases, from so many people of his own party in this country,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday. “We didn’t anticipate that.”
President Joe Biden announced sweeping vaccine rules this week, arguing mandates for federal and private employees were needed to chart a path out of the pandemic. The president said unvaccinated Americans were slowing the country’s recovery from the coronavirus slamming GOP governors for thwarting pandemic restrictions.
Biden, in his speech on Thursday, “was channeling the frustration that millions of people across this country are feeling, who are vaccinated,” Psaki said, adding that “recent trends” reflected this.
“Many governors and elected officials have also shared their frustration,” she said.
In outlining his plan, the president took aim at Americans who haven’t gotten the shot yet, a point Psaki echoed while speaking to reporters.
“There are many people in this country who weren’t vaccinated who said, ‘I’m just waiting for the FDA to approve the vaccine.’ That happened several weeks ago,” she said. Some 80 million people remain unvaccinated, according to the president.
The move has taken some by surprise.
Asked about the prospect of a mandate in July, Psaki told reporters, “That’s not the role of the federal government.”
One week later, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “There will be no nationwide mandate.”
Biden, too, had pledged this.
Republican leaders have argued Biden’s mandate lacks constitutional authority and inoculations should be a personal choice.