COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients answers questions during a news conference at the White House on April 13. He said that nearly 2 million U.S. residents have received booster shots in the first week of eligibility. File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Nearly 2 million U.S. residents have received booster shots in the first week of eligibility, Jeff Zients, the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Response Team said Friday during the group's regular report.
On Sept. 22, the Food and Drug Administration approved coronavirus vaccine booster shots to individuals 65 years of age and older, those at high risk for severe cases of COVID-19 and those in frequent institutional or occupational exposure to it.
"We estimate that by day's end, nearly 2 million Americans would have rolled up their sleeves and got the booster shots," Zients said. "Two million shots in the first week is a very strong start. The booster program is off to a running start."
Zients said the federal government is making use of clinics and pharmacies in helping reach those who are at high risk. He said some state agencies have organized efforts to contact candidates via emails, text and phone calls.
During the briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci made the pitch for booster shots in a series of slides with data from a study in Israel connected with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
In one study slide that described active severe coronavirus cases by vaccine status, per 100,000 people in Israel, 174.2 cases involved unvaccinated people, 33.7 cases involved people who were fully vaccinated with two shots and 3.4 cases involved those who had booster shots.
"The conclusion ... get vaccinated," Fauci said.
Striking on a repeated theme of "vaccinating the unvaccinated," Zients said the current push by President Joe Biden to mandate vaccinations among federal workers and companies with 100 or more employees is paying off. He pointed to United Airlines getting 99% of its workforce of 67,000 vaccinated, where only 59% were vaccinated two months ago.
"Vaccines are the best tool we have against the virus," Zients said. "Getting more shots in arms is the path out of this pandemic. Right now, three out of four eligible Americans have had their first shot. That's significant progress but there's still more work to be done."