May 19, 2021 -- More than 600,000 children ages 12 to 15 have been vaccinated against COVID-19, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said during an update on the national vaccination program.

All of those vaccinations were done in the week since the CDC authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for that age group, she said Tuesday.

“And in total, more than 3.5 million adolescents age 12 to 17 have been vaccinated so far. My own son was one of them,” Walensky said.

The Biden administration is emphasizing adolescent vaccinations as a new priority and a key to returning the nation to normal.

“My message to young people, of course, is simple: ‘Get vaccinated.’ Whether you’re a graduate, still in high school, in college, just out, or more than a little bit out, it’s the most important thing you can do right now,” Andy Slavitt, a COVID-19 adviser to the administration, said at the briefing.

So far, only Pfizer’s vaccine can be given to people younger than 18. The Pfizer vaccine was originally authorized for people 16 and up in December and May 12 for people 12 to 15.

The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized only for people 18 and up. Moderna and J&J say they’re developing vaccines for younger people.

Walensky cited other encouraging statistics.

  • On Monday, the CDC reported 17,724 new cases of COVID-19 -- the lowest number since last June.
  • The 7-day average of hospital admissions is 3,500, a decrease of almost 18% from the prior 7-day period.
  • The 7-day average of daily deaths has declined to 546, the lowest number since March 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic.

“We should all have cautious optimism,” Walensky said. “Cases have continued to decrease and have not been this low since spring of last year. Hospital admissions are down, deaths are down, and we are vaccinating between 1.5 million and 2 million people per day.”

Texas, Arizona, Minnesota, and Massachusetts have reported zero daily COVID-19 deaths for the first time since March 2020, Axios reported.

Though COVID cases are down in every state, some states are still struggling. A Mayo Clinic map of COVID hot spots showed that the most cases per 100,000 people were reported in Alabama (24), Colorado (21), and Michigan (19).

Johns Hopkins University says the United States is still reporting the most confirmed COVID cases (almost 33 million) and the most COVID-related deaths (more than 587,000) in the world.

WebMD Health News Brief

Sources

SOURCES:

White House COVID-19 Response Team media briefing, May 18, 2021.

Axios: “Several states report zero COVID deaths for the first time in months.”

Mayo Clinic: “Hot Spots in the United States.”

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