CLAIM: President Joe Biden called for people in Florida to prepare for Hurricane Ian by getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
THE FACTS: Social media users are misrepresenting an August 2021 video in which Biden urged people in hurricane-prone states to get vaccinated in case they needed to evacuate or stay in a shelter. As Hurricane Ian on Tuesday approached the southwest coast of Florida, where 2.5 million people had been ordered to evacuate, the out-of-context clip of Biden spread widely on social media.
“If you’re in a state where hurricanes often strike, like Florida or the Gulf Coast or into Texas, a vital part of preparing for hurricane season is to get vaccinated now,” Biden says in the video clip. “Everything is more complicated if you’re not vaccinated and a hurricane or a natural disaster hits.”
Some social media users who shared the clip suggested that Biden’s comments were in reference to Hurricane Ian’s expected landfall in Florida. “Protect yourself from incoming hurricanes by getting vaccinated... right now!” wrote a Twitter user who shared the video on Tuesday. But the video is from Aug. 10, 2021.
Biden made the comments prior to a White House briefing from FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and other officials about how the COVID-19 pandemic was impacting hurricane preparedness. But he didn’t say getting vaccinated would protect against hurricanes. In the full video, Biden discussed what he described as the upcoming “peak” hurricane season in the Atlantic region coinciding with the pandemic.
“If you wind up having to evacuate, if you wind up having to stay in a shelter, you don’t want to add COVID-19 to the list of dangers that you’re going to be confronting,” Biden said in the video, later adding: “We can’t prevent hurricanes making landfall, but we can prevent people from getting seriously sick and dying from COVID-19.” Hurricane Ian made landfall in southwest Florida on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, leaving destruction in its wake.