Nearly 2M COVID booster shots administered in first week, White House says

A third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine among certain high-risk groups aims to enhance protection against severe disease

Nearly 2 million COVID-19 vaccine booster shots were administered over the last week, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients announced at a briefing Friday. U.S. health authorities last week recommended a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine among certain high-risk groups to enhance protection against severe disease.

"As we vaccinate the unvaccinated, we’re also enhancing protection for vaccinated Americans through booster shots. We estimate that by day’s end, almost 2 million Americans will have rolled up their sleeves and gotten a booster shot. Nearly 2 million booster shots in the first week," Zients said during a virtual White House briefing Friday, calling it a "very strong start."

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Sept. 14, 2021: A syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa. 

Sept. 14, 2021: A syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa.  ((AP Photo/Matt Rourke) )

Earlier in the week, the Biden administration said more than 400,000 Americans received COVID-19 booster shots over the weekend just at pharmacies alone, and another million had signed up to get the extra jab after it was approved for seniors and high-risk people last week. Some 20 million Americans are now eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot, and in the months ahead, 60 million will become eligible as six months lapse from the primary series.

Dr. Imran Sharief, a pulmonary disease specialist in California, told Fox News of "busy, long lines" in the Northridge Hospital Medical Center booster clinic in Los Angeles, and in the Orange County community, Sharief said most seniors are receiving the booster and patients with immunocompromising conditions are receiving a third mRNA shot. According to  U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, three high-risk groups are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster about six months following the primary series:

  • People ages 65 or older and residents in long term care facilities
  • People ages 50-64 with medical conditions and at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness (such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease). People ages 18-49 with underlying conditions may receive a shot and should consider individual benefits and risks
  • People ages 18-64 who live or work in a setting with increased risk of COVID-19 exposure (including healthcare workers, teachers, individuals in shelters or prisons and grocery store workers)

TIME TO GET FLU SHOT IS NOW, DOCTORS URGE: OR ‘ROLL THE DICE’

A small fraction of Americans with moderate-to-severe immunocompromise were previously made eligible for a third dose as well. Murthy advised visiting vaccines.gov for thousands of locations nationwide offering COVID-19 booster doses.

The number of daily COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in the U.S. are declining; as Sept. 27, the country was logging a seven-day moving average of 110,232 new daily cases, down 30.9% from 159,515 on Aug. 27, whereas new COVID-related hospitalization dropped 31% from 12,330 to 8,507 over the same time period.

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"I think we're watching this [decline] very carefully and we really understand that the impact of Delta might be a little bit different," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said during the briefing, adding in part, "as these cases come down, the most important thing that we can do is to continue to practice the mitigation strategies that we know work ... masking handwashing, distancing ventilation, but critically important, it's vaccination."

Fox News’ Breck Dumas contributed to this report.