ATLANTA - A week after the first US kids ages 5 through 11 began rolling up their sleeves for COVID-19 shots, White House officials say 900,000 school-aged children have received their first dose of the Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.
Jeff Zients, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, says the pace of vaccinations will be increasing as more providers begin offering shots.
"Many of the places that adults go to get vaccinated are not the right places for kids 5 to 11, so we’re bringing on the 20,000 sites that we’ve talked about — you know, including children’s hospitals, pediatricians, family doctors," Zients says. "So many of these are new locations and, therefore, it takes time for them to come on line to begin to give doses to kids and, also, to begin to report."
Zients says pharmacies have scheduled about 700,000 appointments for the pediatric vaccine.
The Georgia Department of Public Health had enrolled 2,209 pediatric vaccine providers and ordered 223,100 doses of the Pfizer children's vaccine as of Wednesday afternoon.
The rollout is beginning at a time infections, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus in Georgia and across the South are steadily dropping.
After months in the red on the CDC's COVID-19 transmission map, Georgia is now yellow, indicating mild COVID-19 spread.
Wednesday, the Georgia DPH reported 979 people across the state were hospitalized with COVID-19, with another 348 listed as patients under investigation, meaning a COVID-19 infection was suspected but not yet confirmed by testing.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says the US is averaging about 70,000 new infections, 5,000 new hospitalizations and about 1,000 new deaths from the virus each day.
Almost 70% of US counties are reporting high levels of viral transmission, with states like Colorado, Alaska, New Mexico and North Dakota reporting a rise in infections.
Heading into the holidays, health officials are urging Americans to get their initial vaccine doses or their booster shots, if they are eligible.
So far, about 25 million fully vaccinated adults have received a booster shot.
Another 60 million Americans, including 43% of all Georgians, have yet to receive one dose of the vaccine.
"First and foremost, we want to get everybody who’s eligible to be vaccinated who has not yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated," Dr. Walensky says. "That, I think, is the most important, in terms of preventing hospitalizations and death and infection in and of itself."
The highly contagious delta variant remains the primary strain of the virus circulating in the US.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says health officials are keeping an eye out for new variants that could overtake the delta strain.
"When we do get a new variant, we always do studies to see whether or not they evade, or not, monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma or the antibodies that are induced by vaccines," Dr. Fauci says. "But right now, our problem is the Delta variant, without a doubt, as well as the fact that we are very alert in looking out for the emergence of other variants."
More than 99% of the viral samples being tested in the US, Fauci says, are the delta variant.