The pace of vaccination against the coronavirus among newly eligible younger children is accelerating, and nearly 10 percent of the nation’s 5- to 11-year olds have already had their first shot, the White House estimated on Wednesday.
Last week alone, 1.7 million young children were vaccinated, about double the previous week, Jeff Zients, President Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, said at a White House Covid-19 briefing. The administration estimates that by the end of Wednesday, 2.6 million of the 28 million children in that age group will have had their first of two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the only one currently authorized for them.
“Just 10 days into our program being in full strength, we’re at 10 percent of kids,” Mr. Zients said. “For perspective, it took about 50 days for us to reach 10 percent of adults with one shot. And when the polio vaccine was first rolled out for kids in the 1950s it took about three months to cross two and a half million shots in arms.”
The pediatric figures come as the nation is about to cross another vaccination threshold: Nearly 80 percent of Americans aged 12 and older have had their first shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The figure suggests slow but steady acceptance of the vaccine. This past summer, President Biden failed to meet his goal of having 70 percent of U.S. adults receive at least one dose by the July 4 holiday.
Studies and real-world evidence show that coronavirus vaccines are extremely effective at preventing hospitalization and death from Covid-19. During Wednesday’s briefing, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Mr. Biden’s top medical adviser for the pandemic, shared a slide deck showing data from states including Texas and Indiana to make that point.
In Texas, Dr. Fauci said, unvaccinated people were 13 times more likely than fully vaccinated people to become infected with the coronavirus during the month of September, and 20 times more likely to die of Covid-19. In Indiana, during the week that began on Sept. 30, 1,447 people were hospitalized with Covid-19; about 10 were fully vaccinated. Of 219 who died, fewer than 15 were fully vaccinated.