Washington — President Biden spoke Wednesday on the nation's response to the coronavirus pandemic and vaccination efforts in the U.S., shortly after a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel the use of Pfizer's vaccine for children ages 12 to 15. The Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the vaccine for that age group on Monday.
The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met Wednesday and endorsed the safety and efficacy of Pfizer's two-dose vaccine in adolescents. Fourteen members of the advisory committee voted to recommend the vaccine for young people, with one member not voting.
"This is one more giant step in our fight against the pandemic," Mr. Biden said.
The president made a particular pitch to parents, urging them to make sure their adolescents get the shot. As of Thursday, more than 15,000 vaccination sites across the country will be vaccinating 12-to-15-year-olds.
While vaccinations in the U.S. climbed over the past months, daily rates are now beginning to slow, with more than 263 million vaccine doses administered and 58.5% of adults receiving at least one shot. As more Americans get their shots and the number of new cases declining, states have rolled back restrictions designed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
"We're now on track to have 60% of adults with at least one shot by next week," Mr. Biden said. "We still have a lot of work to do to get the adult vaccination rate to 70%, But I believe we're going to get there."
The FDA and CDC's endorsement of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and partner BioNTech for use in adolescents will allow millions of teenagers to get their inoculations, making it easier for students to return to full-time, in-person school in the fall.
Mr. Biden and his administration have spearheaded initiatives designed to incentivize Americans to get their vaccines, as supply of the shots outpaces demand. The Biden administration announced Tuesday a new partnership with ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft to provide free rides to vaccine sites and is working with large community colleges to vaccine their students.
The president has also encouraged employers to provide paid time off for their workers to get their shots and recover from any side effects and announced last month a new tax credit for small and medium-sized businesses who provide the leave.
Mr. Biden has set July 4 as a target date for 70% of the U.S. adult population to have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine and 160 million adults to be fully vaccinated.
"In light of the end that we've been talking about, this light at the end of the tunnel? It's growing brighter and brighter. And we need all of you to bring it home. Americans ages 12 and up, get vaccinated," the president said.