Joe Biden Tells Parents to Have Children Masked Whenever They Are Outside the Home

President Joe Biden has urged parents to put face masks on their children when they leave the house as part of the effort to combat the spread COVID-19.

He made the plea on Monday during a White House address marking the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) full approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine.

Biden also urged employers and state and local officials to implement vaccine mandates now that the Pfizer shot has been approved, saying that other vaccine requirements "have been around for decades."

Biden said: "If you're fully vaccinated — both shots, plus two weeks — your risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is very, very, very low."

"Now, I know that parents are concerned about COVID-19 cases among their children. I'll be addressing this soon with Secretary [Miguel] Cardona to discuss how to get our kids back to school safely," the president went on.

"Cases among children are still rare, and severe cases among children are very, very rare. But I know that parents are thinking about their own kids, and it's not as reassuring as anyone would like it to be."

"So let me say this as parents — to the parents: As you have — you have the tools. You have the tools to keep your child safer, and two of those tools, above all, are available to you," Biden went on.

"One, make sure that everyone around your child, who can be vaccinated, is vaccinated: parents, adults, teens. Two, make sure your child is masked when they leave home. That's how we can best keep our kids safe."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends indoor masking for children in K-12 schools regardless of vaccine status and "that people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people."

President Biden: “Make sure your child is masked when they leave home. That’s how we can best keep our kids safe.”

— The Recount (@therecount) August 23, 2021

Biden's comments come as hospitalizations of children with COVID-19 have increased sharply with some pediatric wings filling up with virus cases amid the surging Delta variant.

The president said vaccine incentives and requirements were "accelerating vaccinations once again, giving us the hope that we can put this Delta variant behind us."

According to the CDC, 73.1 percent of adults have at least one dose of the vaccine but rates differ significantly from state to state.

Hawaii (86.9 percent) is currently the state with the highest proportion of people aged over 18 to have had at least one shot, while Vermont has the highest proportion (77.4 percent) of those fully inoculated.

The lowest vaccine take-up rates for the one-shot metric are found in Wyoming (54.7 percent) and for the fully vaccinated Alabama (45.4 percent), according to latest CDC figures.

Some major U.S. companies have already imposed vaccine requirements for their employees, with firms like Walmart and Google's parent company Alphabet requiring some or all employees get the shot.

"If you're a business leader, a non-profit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that — require it," Biden said.

"Do what I did last month and require your employees to get vaccinated or face strict requirements," he went on.

"And as I said last week, vaccination requirements have been around for decades. Students, healthcare professionals, our troops are typically required to receive vaccination to prevent everything from polio to smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella."

"In fact, the reason most people in America don't worry about polio, smallpox, measles, mumps, and rubella today is because of vaccines. It only makes sense to require a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19," the president said.

Newsweek has asked the CDC for comment.

Joe Biden Speaks in the Roosevelt Room
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room on the continuing situation in Afghanistan and the developments of Hurricane Henri at the White House on August 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden has urged parents to put masks on their children to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Samuel Corum/Getty Images