Fact Check: COVID-19 Vaccine WAS Available When Biden Took Office

Fact Check

  • by: Courtney Kealy
Fact Check: COVID-19 Vaccine WAS Available When Biden Took Office Vaccine in '20

When President Joe Biden took office, was there no COVID-19 vaccine available? No, that's not true: The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine both received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorizations (EUA) in December 2021. The vaccines were available but not widely available to the public while former President Donald Trump was still in office.

The claim originated in a Twitter post on May 12, 2022, by the @WhiteHouse official account (archived here), which opened:

When President Biden took office, millions were unemployed and there was no vaccine available. In the last 15 months, the economy has created 8.3M jobs and the unemployment rate stands at 3.6% -- the fastest decline in unemployment to start a President's term ever recorded.

This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:

Twitter screenshot

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Wed May 18 14:07:24 2022 UTC)

Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine received an FDA EUA on December 11, 2020, for people 16 and older. The FDA issued a EUA on December 18, 2020, for the Moderna vaccine for adults aged 18 years and older.

The White House Twitter account issued this correction later in the day on May 12, 2022, that said:

We previously misstated that vaccines were unavailable in January 2021. We should have said that they were not widely available.

This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2022-05-18 at 11.27.50 AM.png

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Wed May 18 16:27:50 2022 UTC)

Biden received his two doses of the Pfizer vaccine while still president-elect. He got his first Pfizer vaccine on December 21, 2021. He was given his second shot in Newark, Delaware, live on camera on January 11, 2022.

Screen Shot 2022-05-18 at 10.53.21 AM.png

(Source: Associated Press screenshot taken on Wed May 18 14:53:21 2022 UTC)

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Courtney Kealy

Courtney Kealy is a writer and fact-checker at Lead Stories. A graduate of Columbia University’s School of Journalism, she specializes in national and foreign affairs with more than two decades experience in the Middle East. Her work has appeared on FOX News, AlJazeera America, ABC News, the New York Times, Marie Claire, Time and Newsweek.

Read more about or contact Courtney Kealy

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