FRIDAY, Oct. 13, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Following a rocky rollout, more than 7 million Americans have now gotten the newly updated COVID-19 vaccines. Unfortunately, that is still lagging behind the number who sought booster shots last fall. For the first updated boosters, 18 million people had received their shots by the same time last year, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This year’s vaccines were updated to target circulating variants.
About 91 percent of Americans ages 12 years and older can now get the vaccines within five miles of home, as 14 million doses have been shipped to pharmacies and other vaccine sites. However, some people have reported trouble finding doses or getting insurance coverage for their shots, CNN reported, and distribution delays have been responsible for some of the issues with the vaccine rollout. This year, vaccines are being distributed through the private market, a change from last year.
“The Biden-Harris Administration, through HHS, has been working directly with manufacturers and distributors to ensure that the vaccines are getting to pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, pediatricians, and other vaccination sites, including long-term care facilities,” a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson told CNN. “Just as we did last vaccine season, we will be working to reach Americans where they are and inform them of the updated vaccines and where they can get them.”
Among the vaccines are more than 710,000 ordered through the CDC’s Vaccines for Children program, which provides vaccines to half of all children in the United States, CNN reported.
“We have about 10,000 babies a day in this country that become newly eligible for COVID-19 vaccines when they turn 6 months old, and we’re only vaccinating about 7,000 kids a week under the age of 4,” Michelle Fiscus, M.D., chief medical officer at the Association of Immunization Managers, said during a virtual panel Wednesday hosted by the nonprofit COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project, CNN reported. Fiscus was referring to data from earlier this year.
“So we have this growing population of young, unprotected children, and that not only impacts the lives of those children, but it really dilutes the herd immunity that we have in the community by increasing this population every single day of children who are unprotected,” Fiscus noted. “This is a situation where choosing to vaccinate your own child can not just help them and the other members of your family, but also can work to help the community at large.”
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