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WH briefing: Psaki encourages everyone in U.S., including undocumented immigrants, to get vaccine

Posted at 1:38 PM, Jan 28, 2021

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing Thursday that everyone in the U.S. — including undocumented immigrants — should make sure to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Psaki added that including undocumented immigrants in vaccinations is imperative both for "moral" reasons and because it would keep the U.S. safe from the spread of the virus and promote herd immunity.

She also noted that while President Joe Biden plans to increase the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to states, the country still faces several obstacles in getting the country to herd immunity.

Psaki pointed to the fact that the U.S. would still need to gather human and medical resources in order to get shots into the arms of the American people. While she said that there will be enough vaccine supply by this summer to inoculate all Americans, she added the flow in vaccinating the public could reach a choking point if Congress does not pass funds needed to allocate resources to vaccine distribution.

Psaki was also asked about a new strain of COVID-19 that originated in South Africa and which was confirmed to be in the U.S. on Thursday. While the Biden administration has instituted a ban on most travel to South Africa earlier this week, it does not go into effect until Saturday.

When asked why the Biden administration was continuing to wait to block travel to South Africa, Psaki pointed to the U.S.'s new policy requiring foreign travelers to test negative for the virus before boarding flights into the country. That policy went into effect this week.

While the ban on travel allows the spouses and family members of U.S. citizens to enter the country from South African, Psaki said the administration was looking for ways to allow people in unmarried couples to continue travel into the U.S.

Finally, Psaki condemned a Pakistani high court ruling that freed a terrorist who had been convicted of murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002, saying that the White House is "outraged." She called on the Pakistani government to "review its legal options."

Psaki's briefing came moments after Biden signed two executive orders aimed at expanding health care coverage amid the pandemic.

In just over a week, Psaki has restored daily weekday press briefings for the White House press corps, something that had been largely done away with by the Trump administration.

Though President Donald Trump often candidly spoke to reporters in press gaggles, there were often weeks and months-long stretches without a traditional briefing.