“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 said in the following sentence.
Elsewhere during his remarks, the president noted that he was trying to avoid the compounded problem of dealing with COVID-19 during a natural disaster — not that vaccination was somehow going to prevent or protect against the storm.
“We can’t prevent hurricanes making landfall, but we can prevent people from getting seriously sick and dying from COVID-19,” he said. “Get vaccinated and make a plan.”
At the time, the U.S. was experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the highly transmissible delta variant, including in the hurricane-prone states Biden mentioned. The day before his remarks, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a mitigation plan to deal with the rise in cases and hospitalizations in the state, which included asking hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective medical procedures.
Although the new posts mock Biden by implying his comments were foolish, the president’s earlier advice is sound — and is still relevant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, states on its website that COVID-19 vaccination should be part of preparing for hurricane season.
“Staying up to date on vaccines makes it less likely that you will be sick with COVID-19 while sheltering or evacuating from a hurricane, and less likely to need medical services while hospitals are under strain from the natural disaster,” it explains.
Editor’s note: SciCheck’s COVID-19/Vaccination Project is made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation has no control over FactCheck.org’s editorial decisions, and the views expressed in our articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation. The goal of the project is to increase exposure to accurate information about COVID-19 and vaccines, while decreasing the impact of misinformation.
“Hurricane IAN Advisory Archive.” NOAA. Accessed 28 Sep 2022.
“Just in Time Preparedness for Hurricane Ian.” Press release. FEMA. 27 Sep 2022.
“Remarks by President Biden Before a Briefing from the FEMA Administrator, Homeland Security, and COVID-19 Response Teams.” Transcript. White House. 10 Aug 2021.
Sadeghi, McKenzie. “Fact check: Biden comment on COVID-19 vaccines and hurricanes misconstrued.” USA Today. 3 Nov 2021.
Kim, Noah Y. “Video takes Biden out of context on the role vaccines play in hurricane preparedness.” PolitiFact. 17 Sep 2021.
Fraser, Terrence. “Video clip misrepresents Biden’s comments on hurricane preparedness.” AP. 15 Sep 2021.
“Fact Check-Biden urged those in hurricane-prone states to get COVID-19 shots in case of evacuation.” Reuters. 3 Nov 2021.
“Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count.” New York Times. Accessed 28 Sep 2022.
“Governor Abbott Takes Action To Mitigate Rise In COVID-19 Cases In Texas.” Press release. Office of the Texas Governor. 9 Aug 2021.
DeMoss, Adrienne. “Gov. Abbott releases action plan to mitigate rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations.” KBTX. 9 Aug 2021.
“Preparing for a Hurricane or Tropical Storm.” National Center for Environmental Health. CDC. Last reviewed 8 Aug 2022.