The White House says about 10% of eligible children ages 5 to 11 have received a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine since its approval for their age group two weeks ago.
By the end of Wednesday, it’s estimated that at least 2.6 million children those ages will have received their first shot, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said, with 1.7 million doses administered in the last week alone, roughly double the pace of the first week after approval. It’s more than three times faster than the rate adults were vaccinated at the start of the nation’s vaccination campaign 11 months ago. For perspective, it took about 50 days to reach 10% of adults with one shot.
Zients said there are now 30,000 locations across for children to get a shot, up from 20,000 last week, and that the administration expects the pace of pediatric shots to pick up in the coming days.
Children who get their first vaccine dose by the end of this week will be fully vaccinated by Christmas, assuming they get their second shot three weeks after the first one.
The White House was stepping up its efforts to promote child vaccination, with first lady Jill Biden hosting an event Wednesday with the singer Ciara.
Now, 80% of Americans age 12 and older have had at least one shot.
Meanwhile, Pfizer’s booster shot for anyone 18 and older could be approved by the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the week.
“FDA is currently evaluating data on the authorization of booster doses for all people over age 18, as we’ve done before, CDC will quickly review the safety and effectiveness data and make recommendation as soon as we hear from FDA,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
But that raised the question: Why do younger people need a booster?
“Obviously, young individuals have a lot less of a likelihood of progressing to severe disease than elderly individuals and adults. However, the children do get infected, and they do get mild and sometimes moderate illness, so I don’t know about any other vaccine where we worry about keeping people out of the hospital. I think the important thing is keeping people from getting symptomatic disease,” said National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.
On Wednesday, Moderna asked the FDA to approve boosters for all adults ages 18 and up.
Boosters for Pfizer and Moderna are already approved for certain groups of people, but this would allow tens of millions of additional people to get it — which these medical experts say will boost waning immunity.
The Biden administration is also moving forward on treating people with COVID-19. The White House plans to buy enough of Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill for about 10 million courses of treatment to be delivered in the next 10 months, once approved by the FDA, for a price tag of $5 billion.