WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Over 900,000 U.S. children aged 5-11 are expected to have received their first COVID-19 vaccine shot by the end of Wednesday, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said, as the government ramped up vaccinations of younger children.
The United States on Wednesday began administering Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5 to 11, the latest group to become eligible for the shots that provide protection against the illness to recipients and those around them.
“While our program 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,” Zients said during a briefing with reporters.
The figure comes from a White House analysis of available data from pharmaceutical partners, some states, and localities, Zients said, adding the CDC has not yet collected the full tally.
COVID-19 is the largest vaccine-preventable killer of children in that age group, with 66 children dying from it over the past year, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at the same briefing.
The seven-day average of total COVID-19 cases in the U.S. was flat at about 73,300 over the past week, she said, with the hospitalization rate also flat at 5,000 a day. The seven-day average of daily deaths fell 11% to around 1,000 per day.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Alexandra Alper, and Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Nick Zieminski and David Gregorio)