At least 2.6 million kids have received a shot, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday, with 1.7 million doses administered in the last week alone, roughly double the pace of the first week after approval. It's more than three times faster than the rate adults were vaccinated at the start of the nation's vaccination campaign 11 months ago.
Zients said there are now 30,000 locations across the U.S. for kids to get a shot, up from 20,000 last week, and that the administration expects the pace of pediatric shots to pick up in the coming days.
Kids who get their first vaccine dose by the end of this week will be fully vaccinated by Christmas, assuming they get their second shot three weeks after the first one.
State-by-state breakdowns of doses given to the age group haven’t been released by the White House or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but figures shared by states show the pace varies. About 11-12% of children in that age group have received their first doses in Colorado, Utah and Illinois, but the pace is much slower in places like Idaho (5%), Tennessee (5%) and Wyoming (4%), three states that have some of the lowest rates of vaccination for older groups.
The White House was stepping up its efforts to promote kid vaccination, with first lady Jill Biden and the singer Ciara taping a video Wednesday encouraging shots for kids.
The first lady also visited a Washington pediatric care facility along with Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, the Washington Mystics’ Alysha Clark and the Washington Wizards’ Thomas Bryant.
“You’re the real heroes," Biden told newly vaccinated kids. “You have your superpower and now you’re protected against COVID.”
Biden also warned parents against misinformation around the vaccines and emphasized their safety.
“I want you to remember and share with other parents: The vaccine protects your children against COVID-19,” she said. “It’s been thoroughly reviewed and rigorously tested. It’s safe. It’s free, and it’s available for every single child in this country 5 and up.”
AP writer Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City contributed.