Virus Outbreak-Vaccine Mandates

FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2021 file photo, a syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa. Businesses that have announced vaccine mandates say some workers who had been on the fence have since gotten inoculated against COVID-19. But many holdouts remain — a likely sign of what is to come once a federal mandate goes into effect. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

WASHINGTON — More than 400,000 Americans got Pfizer booster shots last weekend through local pharmacies in the opening days of the U.S effort to provide more protection for vulnerable populations.

White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients says an additional 1 million people have scheduled booster shots for the coming weeks. He adds: "We're off to a very strong start with the booster campaign."

As many as 25 million people qualify for the third dose of the Pfizer shot, which was authorized last week for those 65 or older, those with pre-existing conditions or facing an elevated risk at their workplace.

U.S. officials say their primary focus is ensuring the roughly 25% of eligible Americans who have yet to get their first shot do so.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says a major priority is the vaccination rate among pregnant women, which stands at 30% nationally and at 15% among Black pregnant women. She encouraged them to seek out vaccinations, saying data shows they're safe for mother and baby and can prevent needless illness or death.

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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