Youre such a pain in the neck! Biden erupts at reporters as he sidesteps Covid grilling
Joe Biden tells reporter they are a 'pain in the neck'
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The US President fielded questions from reporters after meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi at the White House on Monday. NBC News reporter Kelly O’Donnell asked Joe Biden about Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough’s plans to vaccinate for its health care workers against Covid. Mr Biden retorted by branding her a “pain in the neck”.
Mr Biden said: “You are such a pain in the neck, but I’m going to answer your question because we’ve known each other so long.”
Ms O’Donnell added: “I take that as a compliment, Mr President.”
The President continued: “Yes. Veteran Affairs is going to in fact require that all docs working in facilities are going to have to be vaccinated.”
The NBC reporter questioned if there would be further Covid vaccine requirements for federal employees but Mr Biden did not respond.”
The US Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday mandated that its doctors and other medical staff get COVID-19 vaccines, becoming the first federal agency to impose such a requirement at a time of entrenched vaccine reluctance by some Americans.
“It’s the best way to keep Veterans safe, especially as the Delta variant spreads across the country,” Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement.
“Whenever a Veteran or VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19. With this mandate, we can once again make – and keep – that fundamental promise,” McDonough added.
The VA comprises the largest US healthcare system, employing more than 367,200 full-time healthcare professionals and support staff at 1,293 facilities, according to its website.
Joe Biden meets with Iraq Prime Minister to discuss relations
The VA’s vaccination mandate applies to doctors, dentists, registered nurses, and physician assistants, among others.
The agency said these employees will have eight weeks to become fully vaccinated. It said four unvaccinated VA employees already have died from COVID-19.
Mr Biden sidestepped a question from reporters at the White House on whether the vaccination requirement should be extended to more federal employees.
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The VA’s decision was announced on the same day that 57 leading U.S. medical associations called for all healthcare and long-term care employers to require employees to get vaccinated.
With the highly transmissible Delta variant leading to a surge in COVID-19 cases, the U.S. government is also seeking to jump-start its vaccination drive, with COVID-19 cases rising especially in areas with relatively low vaccination rates.
California and New York City announced on Monday their own mandates that government workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 or be regularly tested for the virus.
The United States is reporting more than 47,000 daily cases of COVID-19, according to a seven-day U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention average, much lower than a peak above 200,000 at the beginning of the year but nearly triple the pace of a month ago.
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