Today our nation marks another tragic milestone – 900,000 American lives have been lost to COVID-19. They were beloved mothers and fathers, grandparents, children, siblings, neighbors and friends. Every soul is irreplaceable. We pray for the loved ones they left behind and together we keep each family enduring this pain in our hearts.

After nearly two years, I know that the emotional, physical and psychological weight of this pandemic has been incredibly difficult to bear. I know what it’s like to stare at an empty chair around the kitchen table. But I also know that we carry within us an incredible capacity – not only to overcome our stronger grief, but to come together to protect each other.

We now have more tools than ever to save lives and fight this virus, with vaccines remaining our most important tool. Vaccines and boosters have proven to be incredibly effective and provide the highest level of protection. Two hundred and fifty million Americans have stepped up to protect themselves, their families and their communities by at least getting vaccinated – and in the process we have saved more than one million American lives.

We can save even more lives – and spare countless families the deepest pain imaginable – if everyone does their part. I urge all Americans: get vaccinated, get your children vaccinated, and get vaccinated if you are eligible. It’s free, easy and effective, and it can save your life and the lives of those you love.