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Fact Check: Joe Biden Said ‘We Didn’t Have’ the COVID Vaccine When He Took Office
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Fact Check: Joe Biden Said ‘We Didn’t Have’ the COVID Vaccine When He Took Office

The statement is false, and Biden made reference to vaccine availability later in the same town hall.

President Joe Biden participated in his first town hall as president on Tuesday night in Milwaukee. During the event, which was hosted by CNN and moderated by Anderson Cooper, Biden addressed questions from Cooper and an invite-only socially distanced audience

During a discussion about the administration’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan, Biden told Cooper: “We talked about it’s one thing to have the vaccine, which we didn’t have when we came into office, but a vaccinator. How do you get the vaccine into someone’s arm?”

Biden’s statement that there was no vaccine when he came into office is false, and in fact he indicated later in the program that there were doses available when he took office. 

The first COVID-19 vaccine was administered on December 14 to Sandra Lindsay, who works at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. About 10,000 vaccines were distributed that same day to hospital employees across the county. Biden received his first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech shortly thereafter on December 21 at a hospital in Newark, Delaware. He then received the second shot a few weeks later on January 11. 

According to the Bloomberg COVID-19 vaccine tracker, on January 19, the day before Biden’s first day in office, there were 927,000 doses recorded. 

For his part, Biden did say later in the town hall that there were limited vaccines available when he came into office:  “We came into office, there was only 50 million doses that were available. We have now, by the end of July we’ll have over 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate every single American.” 

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Khaya Himmelman is a fact checker for The Dispatch. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and Barnard College.