Biden announces new COVID vaccine goals, plan for teens
Washington – United States President Joe Biden has announced new vaccine targets, including a plan to jab young teenagers once a COVID-19 vaccine is approved for children.
It comes as US drug officials consider approving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, which could happen as early as next week.
A new study shows that US children account for 22 per cent of new daily COVID-19 cases, up from three per cent last year.
The announcement could ease fears for parents about school’s re-opening.
The president’s new plan also targets vaccine-hesitant groups with incentives and by making the jab more accessible.
Around half of Americans have gotten their first jab and one third are fully vaccinated, but vaccination rates have slowed in recent weeks.
What’s the plan for teens?
The US Food and Drug Administration is weighing whether to approve the Pfizer vaccine for children as young as 12.
Pfizer’s vaccine is currently approved in the US for people as young as 16.
Biden said he would not interfere with the FDA process, but “if that announcement comes, we are ready to move immediately”, he pledged.
In a speech at the White House, Biden said that shipments of vaccine will be sent directly to paediatricians allowing children to get their first dose from their medical provider.
“Easy, fast and free,” Biden said, adding that 15 000 pharmacies will also be made available to teenagers to get their jab.
“And if teens are on the move this summer they can get their first shot in one place and get their second shot elsewhere,” he added.
If approved, the vaccine will immediately become available to approximately 17 million teenagers ages 12 to 15.
Experts, such as top US researcher Dr Anthony Fauci, say it is necessary to vaccinate children in order for life to return to normal.
With 75 per cent of American seniors now fully vaccinated, rates of infections have increased in unvaccinated children.
According to a study released on Monday by the American Academy of Paediatrics, children in states that count COVID cases by age now make up around 22.4 per cent of all new infections. That’s up significantly from three per cent of new daily cases at this point last year.
What incentives are being offered?
Biden also announced that he was speaking to US businesses to announce shopping discounts for vaccinated Americans.
“We’re working with major sports leagues to launch special promotions for their fans. Things like ticket giveaways, in-stadium vaccinations, discounts on merchandise and other creative ways to make it easier and more fun to get vaccinated,” he said.
Biden also pleaded with Americans who are sceptical of the vaccine to get it anyway, for the sake of their community. (BBC)