Biden tours pop-up vaccine clinic, offers pep talk and jokes
President Biden visited a pop-up vaccination site in a converted Virginia chapel Tuesday to thank volunteers, regale them with his brand of humor and set the table for a White House address demanding full eligibility for the vaccine in all states.
Workers at the Virginia Theological Seminary’s Immanuel Chapel in Alexandria told Mr. Biden how recipients check in and show an insurance card, if they have one, before queuing up for their shots. The site gives at least 300 shots per day.
“We’ve passed 150 million [shots] — yesterday,” Mr. Biden said, before whispering his goal of 200 million in his first 100 days, as if it were a secret.
Mr. Biden said the pandemic is “not over yet” and people need to keep washing their hands, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance.
“Which I’m not doing,” he said as he spoke to a nearby woman. “I’m going to get in trouble here.”
The president extolled the benefits of vaccination, saying it is the path out of the pandemic that’s killed over half a million Americans.
“Your neighbor, that’s what it’s about,” Mr. Biden said, before urging seniors to get their shots before states open it up to everyone.
He also said that once Americans are given a fair shot at the vaccine, the U.S. will share its extra doses with “poorer” countries, drawing applause. He said vaccinating abroad will help the U.S., too, as the virus pings around the world.
“You can’t build a fence high enough, you can’t build a wall high enough,” Mr. Biden said.
Neighborhood Health employees who operate the site said they were focused on equity by giving priority to low-income residents and people of color.
In a touching moment, a woman waiting in pews told the president she is from India and proud to be part of America.
“You are America. You are America,” Mr. Biden said.
The president later told vaccinators to “fire away” and buttered up one recipient by claiming his biceps were bigger than his own thighs. Mr. Biden said he was surprised the shot could get through the man’s muscle mass.
“Nice to see you all. Just don’t ask me to play the piano or organ, I can’t,” he told those gathered in front of a tall church organ.
He said his dad often accused him of having no musical talent — that he couldn’t “carry a tune in a wheelbarrow” and had “two left feet” but “no lip to play a reed instrument.”
“I had to become president, I didn’t know what else to do,” Mr. Biden said.