Surgeon General reacts to Biden's winter COVID strategy

The mask mandate on mass transportation -- including trains, buses and planes -- will be extended into March.

Friday, December 3, 2021
Surgeon General reacts to Biden's winter COVID strategy
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"The quicker we get vaccinated, the more we use strategies like masks and testing to reduce our risk, the quicker we'll come to the end of this pandemic," said Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- After President Joe Biden outlined a winter COVID strategy Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Surgeon General told Action News why he thinks the plan will work.

"These will help us," said Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. "The quicker we get vaccinated, the more we use strategies like masks and testing to reduce our risk, the quicker we'll come to the end of this pandemic."

The plan includes making at-home rapid test kits free, more vaccine sites where children and adults can get vaccinated together, and expanded access to booster shots at pharmacies.

SEE ALSO: Biden launching winter COVID-19 booster, testing campaign

"If you want to know exactly where to go, text your zip code to 438829 to find where you can get your booster shot now," said Biden during his speech outlining the plan at the National Institutes of Health.

The mask mandate on mass transportation -- including trains, buses and planes -- will be extended into March.

The testing window for international travelers entering the United States goes from three days to one.

"All inbound international travelers must test within one day of departure regardless of vaccination status or nationality," said Biden.

Most people Action News spoke with were on board with the new measures.

"I just had a recent loss because they weren't vaccinated, so I think that people should definitely get vaccinated," said Jada Cunningham of Marlton, NJ.

Brandi Lapadula brought her three children to get their second vaccine at the new Burlington County mega site in Mount Laurel Thursday morning.

"They know that it's important to help stop the spread and help stop the variants, so we all know how important this is and they're actually excited to get their shots," said Lapadula.

Dr. Lisa O'Mahoney, who is the medical advisor for Delaware County, says the plan comes at the right time.

"What he's doing is really doubling down, expanding vaccinations, encouraging boosters. I think this is really critical going into the winter season," said Dr. O'Mahoney.

She adds while we don't know exactly what the omicron variant will do, being prepared for it is the responsible way.

"The thing everyone should consider is if your vaccinated and boosted it really will protect you, and we won't need to shut things down," said Dr. O'Mahoney.

But there are still those who aren't sold on boosters.

"It just seems like there's a new variant and there's a new shot. And there's a new variant and there's a new shot. And I'm just - that's why I don't get it," said Tim James of Edgewater Park, NJ.

As more cases of omicron pop up in the U.S., the surgeon general says while there are many unknowns about the new variant, he says vaccines and boosters will help.

"Up until this point what we have seen is that against every variant to date, people who have been vaccinated have been much better off than people who are not vaccinated because the vaccines will likely offer some protection, even against omicron. We're trying to figure out exactly how much," said Murthy.