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More than 400,000 people in the U.S. have received COVID-19 booster shots at pharmacies since the third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized last week, White House officials announced Tuesday.
Most of the shots were given over the weekend, and nearly 1 million people have scheduled appointments to get a third dose in coming weeks.
“Our planning and preparation on boosters have propelled a strong start,” Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said during a news briefing.
The CDC authorized booster shots of Pfizer’s vaccine on Friday for people over age 65, older adults living in long-term care facilities, adults with certain health conditions, and workers who face high risks of contracting COVID-19 in health care facilities and congregate settings. Those who are eligible for a third shot can receive one 6 months after their second dose.
The Biden administration began rolling out boosters as soon as the shots were authorized through established partnerships with states, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, and doctors. Massachusetts is contacting eligible people via email and text, and New Jersey is opening three mass vaccination sites for booster shots, Zients said.
Overall, about 3.4 million Americans have received an extra dose since health officials authorized third shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in August for people with weak immune systems, according to CDC data.
“We will continue working with our partners to execute so we can efficiently and equitably provide the added protection of booster shots to eligible Americans,” Zients said.
Most vaccinated Americans have received the Pfizer shot, CDC data shows. The FDA and CDC are expected to approve booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines once the companies submit the appropriate paperwork and data, which could happen this fall.
Zients said the Biden administration is also focused on increasing initial vaccinations among those who haven’t yet received one. On Wednesday, the U.S. will hit a milestone of 200 million adults with at least one shot.
About 75% of eligible people in the U.S. over age 12 have received at least one dose, and 65% are considered fully vaccinated. About 94% of adults over age 65 have received at least one dose.
However, 70 million eligible Americans haven’t received any doses.
“Our top priority remains first and second shots,” Zients said.
“White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing,” Sept. 28, 2021.
CDC: “COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States.”