The US has distributed 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine since January, White House says

COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 10:43 AM, Oct 27, 2021

The White House says the U.S. has distributed about 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine since President Joe Biden took office on Jan. 20.

Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response team coordinator, made the announcement Wednesday during a virtual briefing.

That figure includes booster shots, of which the U.S. has distributed 15 million had since the extra doses got first approval this summer. That includes 1.5 million doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters, which were approved as booster shots last week.

Those who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and are at least 65 years old, have an underlying condition that makes them susceptible to COVID-19 or live or work in a place that puts them at risk for infection can now seek out a booster shot. In addition, those who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine can seek a booster two months after their initial dose.

The CDC also issued final approval on guidance that will allow Americans to receive any brand of a booster shot, regardless of which vaccine they received initially.

The U.S. will likely soon distribute millions of additional doses in the coming weeks if and when Pfizer's vaccine is approved for children aged 5-11 for emergency use.

On Tuesday, the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the Pfizer vaccine be made available to children as young as 5 on an emergency use basis.

The FDA as a whole still needs to issue a recommendation before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention takes up the matter.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has already set meetings for Nov. 2 and 3, where the panel will likely take a vote on whether to issue its own recommendation for the Pfizer vaccine for children.

Once the ACIP issues a recommendation, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky needs to issue final approval.

In the meantime, Walensky on Wednesday encouraged Americans to continue to adhere to CDC guidelines and surround children with as many vaccinated adults as possible to protect them from COVID-19. While cases have dropped significantly in recent weeks, Walensky noted that the U.S. is still seeing childhood cases of COVID-19 that result in death or in cases of "long COVID."

In terms of fighting vaccine hesitancy with parents, Zients says he believes that such hesitancy will lift over time, pointing to polling that has shown increased confidence in COVID-19 vaccines since last year. He also noted that "local, trusted messengers" like doctors and pediatricians are the best way to fight vaccine hesitancy.