Fewer than a million US kids get Covid-19 shot during first eligible week, White House projects

Enough of the special formulation Pfizer /BioNTech vaccine has been bought for all 28 million eligible children.

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – Over 900,000 US children aged five to 11 are expected to have received their first Covid-19 shot by the end of Wednesday (Nov 10), the White House said, as the government ramped up vaccinations of younger children.

The United States began administering Pfizer /BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine to children aged five to 11 on Nov 3, the latest group to become eligible for the shots that provide protection against the illness to recipients and those around them.

“While our programme is just fully up and running this week, by the end of the day today, we estimate that over 900,000 kids aged five through 11 will have already gotten their first shot,” White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said during a briefing with reporters.

Zients last week said that 15 million doses specifically formulated for that age group would be available this week and that the federal government had purchased enough supply for all 28 million eligible children.

The 900,000 figure comes from a White House analysis of available data from pharmaceutical partners, some states, and localities, Zients said on Wednesday, adding that the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not yet collected the full tally.

“This is the very beginning… we expect more and more kids to get vaccinated across time,” he added.

Covid-19 is the largest vaccine-preventable killer of children in that age group, with 66 US children dying from it over the past year, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said during the briefing.

She offered no timeline for when the CDC would have data on the number of younger children vaccinated so far.

The seven-day average of total Covid-19 cases in the US was flat at about 73,300 over the past week, Dr Walensky said, with the hospitalisation rate also flat at 5,000 a day.

The US seven-day average of daily deaths fell 11 per cent to around 1,000 per day.

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