President Joe Biden on Wednesday urged all U.S. employers to give their workers paid time off to get their COVID-19 vaccine shots, while also saying his administration has achieved its goal of administering 200 million doses in his first 100 days in office.
Biden announced that target a month ago, after his administration attained an earlier goal of getting 100 million shots in arms well before his 100th day on the job.
“When tomorrow’s vaccination numbers come out, it will show that today we did it. Today we hit 200 million shots in the 92nd day in office,” the president said in a speech on Wednesday.
Regarding the time off for shots, Biden said he’s “calling on every employer, large and small, in every state, to give employees the time off they need with pay to get vaccinated — and any time they need with pay to recover, if they’re feeling under the weather after the shot.”
“To make sure this policy comes at no cost to small- or medium-sized businesses with fewer than 500 employees, the IRS is posting instructions for how employers can get reimbursed for the cost of providing paid leave for their employees to get vaccinated and recover from the side effects if they have any,” Biden added, referring to the Internal Revenue Service.
The White House said in a statement earlier Wednesday that a new tax credit aims to offset the costs of paid leave for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees, providing for up to 80 hours off at up to $511 per day between April 1 and Sept. 30.
The U.S. has administered 216 million vaccine doses as of Wednesday, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tally that includes shots from early January and late last year. Biden, meanwhile, is counting the shots administered from his Jan. 20 inauguration.
The share of the U.S. population receiving at least one dose has hit 40.5%, and 51.5% of adults have gotten at least one shot, according to the CDC. Everyone in U.S. aged 16 and over became eligible for vaccination on Monday.
Biden’s 100th day in office will come next week — on April 29 if counting from Jan. 20, or April 30 if counting full days in office.
Following his speech, the president spoke with reporters about plans to help with vaccination efforts in other nations. He said he had spoken for about half an hour Wednesday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“We helped a little bit there. We’re gonna try to help some more,” Biden said. “But there’s other countries as well that I’m confident we can help, including in Central America, and so it’s in process. We don’t have enough to be confident to send it abroad now, but I expect we’re gonna be able to do that.”
traded higher Wednesday, despite concerns that rising COVID-19 infections around the world could slow economic growth.