WASHINGTON - Half of children aged 12 to 17 in the United States have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccination, the White House confirmed Friday.
"We have now hit a major milestone in our effort to vaccinate adolescents — 50 percent of 12 to 17-year-olds now have at least their first shot," White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said at the news briefing.
Later, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki echoed this update saying, "Importantly we’ve hit another major milestone in our effort to vaccinate adolescents at a particularly important time as people go back to school."
A 15-year-old receives a first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination clinic at the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA on May 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. - The campaign to immunize America's 17 million adolescents aged 12-to
The pace of vaccinations has picked up in recent weeks for a number of apparent reasons including the surge of the extremely contagious delta variant, the recent reopening of schools and classrooms, and the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine.
"Obviously more work to do, but a positive step forward," Psaki continued.
Many parents rushed to get their children inoculated in May after regulators widened use of Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 shot to children as young as age 12. Other parents have held off because of concerns about the shot’s speedy development and a rare side effect, an inflammatory heart condition called myocarditis.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has continued to urge parents to get their teenagers vaccinated against COVID-19.
In June, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said she is "deeply concerned" with the results of a new study that found adolescent hospitalization rates from COVID-19 were on the rise in March and April.
Among the teens in the hospital, the study said nearly one-third had to go to the ICU.
"COVID can be a very serious illness for everyone, including children," says Dr. Lee Beers, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Beers says although overall COVID-19 doesn't impact children as severely as adults, that doesn't mean kids are immune.
"This is a safe and effective vaccine and really can prevent very serious illness," she said. "When I think about the vaccine and recommending the vaccine, I’m thinking about it for all of us. I’m thinking about it for my patients, but I’m also thinking about it for my kids."
As of Aug. 27, the CDC reported 71.7% of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated, and 60.8% have received at least one dose.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.