More than 1 million Americans have received their first doses of a COVID-19 shot across the country since federal officials authorized two vaccines for emergency use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
CDC Director Robert Redfield called it an “early but important milestone” in a media statement.
“With cases of COVID-19 continuing to surge nationwide, this achievement comes at a critical time and will help to protect those on the front lines – our health care providers treating COVID-19 patients – as well as our most vulnerable: elder individuals living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” Redfield said in the statement obtained by McClatchy News.
“While we celebrate this historic milestone, we also acknowledge the challenging path ahead. There is currently a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S., but supply will increase in the weeks and months to come. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as large enough quantities are available,” he added.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given emergency use authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Shots are being allocated based on a state’s population size, not the number of people in high-risk groups.
Federal officials say it’s up to states to determine vaccine priority.
A CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Tuesday updated its interim recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine allocation.
It said the second group of people after health care workers and nursing home residents to receive a coronavirus vaccine should be individuals 75 years of age and older and front-line essential workers who are not involved in health care.
The next group should consist of people between 65 and 74 years of age, individuals between 16 and 64 years old with high-risk medical conditions and essential workers who were not recommended in the second round of vaccinations.
“Vaccination is a critical tool in bringing this unprecedented pandemic to an end,” Redfield said. “But until every person in the U.S. is able to get a COVID-19 vaccine, we continue to ask Americans to embrace proven public health strategies including social distancing, good hand hygiene, and wearing a mask in public to reduce the risk of transmission and protect our communities.”