10% of US kids ages 5 to 11 have started COVID-19 vaccine

By the end of today 2.6 million American children ages 5 to 11 will have gotten their first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, meaning 10% of that age-group will have started the two-dose series in the first 10 days the vaccines have been available.

White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said today that it took 50 days to reach 10% of the adult population with vaccines earlier this year. Despite continued vaccinated efforts, however, new COVID-19 cases are continuing to tick upward.

Over the past 2 weeks, 21 states have seen at least a 10% uptick in daily cases, ABC News reports.

Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the new 7-day average of cases was 83,671 per day, about 10,000 more than the previous week. The average number of hospitalization is at 5,300 per day, and the daily death toll remains around 1,000.

Yesterday the country reported 87,481 new COVID-19 cases and 1,448 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker.

Breakthrough infections on the rise

During a White House briefing today, Walensky said although unvaccinated Americans still make up most new hospitalizations, the CDC is seeing indictors of rising breakthrough infections, including increasing hospitalizations for those 65 and older who are fully vaccinated, and among residents in long-term care facilities.

For the latter group, Walensky said residents who received booster shots were much less likely to get sick than those who had not.

The CDC COVID Data Tracker shows that 58.9% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (two doses), 68.6% have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 15.7% of fully vaccinated Americans have received a booster dose.

Several states and cities have opened up booster eligibility to all interested adults. In light of this, the Food and Drug Administration is planning to authorize booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for all adults as early as tomorrow, the New York Times reports.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has scheduled a meeting to discuss booster efficacy and safety at the end of the week. Moderna is expected to ask the FDA to approve a booster dose of its vaccine in the coming days as well for people 18 and older.

Currently, the FDA has authorized booster doses for all three vaccines approved for use in the United States for recipients 65 and older, those with underlying health conditions, and those whose work or living environment puts them at high risk for contracting COVID-19.

In several states, including California, Colorado, New Mexico, and West Virginia, health officials have instructed providers to not turn anyone away seeking a booster as long as it has been at least 6 month from their last dose.

Other US developments

  • A conservative-leaning federal appeals court was selected yesterday to decide challenges to the Biden administration's vaccine requirement for companies with 100 or more employees, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. 

  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday that Times Square will be open for New Year's Eve celebrations this year, but only to vaccinated revelers, NPR reports.

  • Nearly one in three older Americans say they plan to take an extended trip within the next year, and one in four say they plan to travel for the holidays, according to a new poll from the University of Michigan. Twenty percent said they would definitely alter plans if COVID-19 cases are surging at their destination, and 52% said they may do so.

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