As we mark the tragic milestone of 800,000 American deaths due to COVID-19, we remember each person and the lives they lived, and we pray for the loved ones left behind. I know what it’s like to stare at an empty chair around the kitchen table, especially during the holiday season, and my heart aches for every family enduring this pain.

To heal, we must remember. We must also act. That’s exactly what we have done over the past 11 months. We stood up a historic vaccination program, and 240 million Americans have stepped up and gotten at least one shot. As a result, we have saved over one million American lives, and spared families in every community across the country the incalculable loss that too many others have suffered.

Today, more than 200 million Americans are fully vaccinated, and each day, more people are getting boosted than ever before. As we head into the winter and confront a new variant, we must resolve to keep fighting this virus together. This means getting vaccinated and getting your booster shot, and taking other prevention measures, such as masking.

The vaccines are safe, effective, free, easy, and our best tool to prevent more loss and pain. If you were fully vaccinated before mid-June, please go get your booster shot as soon as possible. And if you haven’t already — please get yourself and your school-age children vaccinated.

I urge all Americans: do your patriotic duty to keep our country safe, to protect yourself and those around you, and to honor the memory of all those we have lost. Now is the time. 

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