- The Washington Times - Friday, April 23, 2021

Two-thirds of U.S. seniors 65 and older have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, federal health officials said Friday, but they warned that areas giving fewer shots could stymie efforts to end the pandemic. 

More than 36 million Americans are now protected against the coronavirus, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noting that those over age 65 “bore the brunt of the pandemic.” 

“We are well on our way to have one of our most vulnerable populations fully protected against this deadly virus, and that is a reason to celebrate,” she said during a White House coronavirus briefing. 

Nearly 81% of adults age 65 years and older have received at least one dose.

However, she pointed out “unsettling gaps” in vaccine coverage in parts of the country. Some counties have vaccinated more than 65% of its population 65 years and older, she said, while many areas are below 47%. 

“Because this virus is an opportunist, we anticipate that the areas of lightest vaccine coverage now might be where the virus strikes next,” Dr. Walensky said. “And with modest protection of our oldest population, many more deaths could ensue. So while we have many reasons to celebrate, we also have the potential, indeed the need, to do more to protect people now.” 

The CDC is now recommending that pregnant women get vaccinated. A study involving 35,000 pregnant women who were vaccinated found no safety concerns for the women or for their babies, Dr. Walensky said. 

This week, the U.S. hit its 200 million vaccines mark, administering them in less than 100 days. The country will have enough supply for everyone who wants a shot by the end of May, said Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator. 

As of Thursday, nearly 219 million vaccines had been administered in the U.S., CDC data show. Nearly 41% of the total U.S. population have received at least one dose, while almost 27% are fully vaccinated. 

Just under 35% of U.S. adults 18 years and older are fully vaccinated, while 52% have received at least one dose, according to CDC data. 

The coronavirus has infected nearly 32 million people and killed more than 570,000 in the U.S. as of Friday, a Johns Hopkins tally shows. This week, the U.S. has recorded an average of 62,500 new daily coronavirus cases, a 10% drop from last week’s average, the CDC said.  

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