Fact Check: Joe Biden Spreads Misinformation About COVID-19 Vaccines at CNN Town Hall

Joe Biden town hall (Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty)
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

CLAIM: President Joe Biden claimed Wednesday: “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.”

VERDICT: PARTLY FALSE. Vaccines greatly reduce the probability of COVID infections, but do not eliminate it.

Biden tried to address vaccine hesitancy at a CNN town hall in Cincinnati, Ohio, Wednesday evening. In so doing, he provided inaccurate information about the vaccines, claiming falsely that vaccinated people cannot contract the virus.

While the vaccines greatly reduce the chance of infection, the severity of illness, and the chances of hospitalization, they do not completely prevent infection, and there are examples of vaccinated individuals still contracting COVID-19.

Even CNN’s post-event panel criticized Biden’s claim, with Anderson Cooper saying it was “just obviously not the case.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states on its website (original emphasis):

A small percentage of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will still develop COVID-19 illness

COVID-19 vaccines are effective. However, a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinatedwill still get COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus that causes it. These are called “vaccine breakthrough cases.” This means that while people who have been vaccinated are much less likely to get sick, it will still happen in some cases. It’s also possible that some fully vaccinated people might have infections, but not have symptoms (asymptomatic infections). Experts continue to study how common these cases are.

Large-scale clinical studies found that COVID-19 vaccination prevented most people from getting COVID-19. Research also provides growing evidence that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) offer similar protection in real-world conditions. While these vaccines are effective, no vaccine prevents illness 100% of the time. For any vaccine, there are breakthrough cases.

Other reasons why fully-vaccinated people might get COVID-19

It’s possible a person could be infected just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. It typically takes about 2 weeks for the body to build protection after vaccination, so a person could get sick if the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

New variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 illness are spreading in the United States. Current data suggest that COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States offer protection against most variants. However, some variants might cause illness in some people after they are fully vaccinated.

If you get COVID-19 after vaccination, your symptoms might be less severe

There is some evidence that vaccination may make illness less severe in people who get vaccinated but still get sick. Despite this, some fully vaccinated people will still be hospitalized and die. However, fully vaccinated people are much less likely to be hospitalized or die than people with similar risk factors who are not vaccinated.

CDC is monitoring COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases for patterns

CDC is working with state and local health departments to investigate COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases. The goal is to identify any unusual patterns, such as trends in age or sex, the vaccines involved, underlying health conditions, or which of the SARS-CoV-2 variants made these people sick. To date, no unusual patterns have been detected in the data CDC has received.

COVID-19 vaccines are an essential tool to help protect people against COVID-19 illness, including against new variants

COVID-19 vaccines help protect people who are vaccinated from getting COVID-19 or getting severely ill from COVID-19, including reducing the risk of hospitalization and death. Studies show that fully vaccinated people can be less likely to spread the virus to others, even if they do get COVID-19. CDC recommends you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is available to you. Fully vaccinated people can resume activities that they did before the pandemic. Learn more about what you can do when you have been fully vaccinated. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, find a vaccine near you. Keep taking all precautions until you are fully vaccinated.

Half a dozen members of the delegation of Texas Democrats who recently fled their state to Washington, DC, to deny Republicans in the legislature a quorum to pass new voting laws have tested positive for the coronavirus since last week.

The Biden White House has pushed for the suppression of “misinformation” about the coronavirus vaccine on social media sites, claiming “conservative news outlets” are spreading such misinformation and should be held “accountable.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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