Hurricane Ian made landfall along Florida's southwest coast on Sept. 28, gaining top winds of 155 mph, just shy of the most dangerous Category 5 status.
As people in Florida braced for impact, a video clip of President Joe Biden discussing being vaccinated as part of hurricane preparedness went viral, racking up millions of views on Twitter and TikTok.
“Let me be clear: If you’re in a state where hurricanes often strike — like Florida or the Gulf Coast or into Texas — a vital part of preparing for hurricane season is to get vaccinated now. Everything is more complicated if you’re not vaccinated and a hurricane or a natural disaster hits,” Biden says in the clip.
People on social media, including Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), criticized Biden for allegedly making the comments ahead of Hurricane Ian’s landfall.
“Joe Biden just told everyone in the line of a hurricane to get vaccinated to avoid complications. Mr. President, these people have bigger fish to fry, and the only complications for the unvaccinated are the ones you’re creating,” Blackburn tweeted on Sept. 27.
Did President Biden tell people in the path of Hurricane Ian to get vaccinated?
No, President Biden didn’t tell people in the path of Hurricane Ian to get vaccinated. The video is from 2021 and is being shared out of context.
WHAT WE FOUND
The video clip of Biden talking about COVID-19 vaccination and hurricane preparedness wasn’t from September 2022 ahead of Hurricane Ian’s landfall. Biden made those comments in August 2021, during a briefing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and COVID-19 response teams.
During the briefing, held on Aug. 10, 2021, Biden said being vaccinated would provide more protection for people who might have to take shelter during hurricane season or during any natural disaster. Here is what he said:
“With the Delta variant, we’re seeing a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Cases and hospitalizations are rising faster in states with low vaccination rates, such as Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, which are the states that — from a hurricane-prone — they’re the states that are most at risk.
And so, we don’t wait until it’s too late. And if, God forbid, a natural disaster strikes, we have to make sure we’re ready to be protected against COVID-19 as well.
Let me be clear: If you’re in a state where hurricanes often strike — like Florida or the Gulf Coast or into Texas — a vital part of preparing for hurricane season is to get vaccinated now. Everything is more complicated if you’re not vaccinated and a hurricane or a natural disaster hits.
If you wind up having to evacuate, if you wind up having to stay in a shelter, you don’t want to add COVID-19 to the list of dangers that you’re going to be confronting.”
Biden spoke publicly about Hurricane Ian on Sept. 27, 2022 during an address on Medicare costs and Social Security. He didn’t mention COVID-19 vaccination as part of his administration’s preparation plan for Hurricane Ian.
Biden said he approved an expedited major disaster declaration to provide individual and public assistance for those affected by the hurricane. He also said he approved Florida’s request for emergency assistance and spoke about FEMA's deployment of personnel and aid to Florida.
There is also no mention of COVID-19 vaccination in a White House fact sheet on how the administration is preparing to help those affected by Hurricane Ian.