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New COVID-19 vaccinations accelerated for first time in months, amid increase in vaccine mandates

Biden pushes vaccines
Biden pushes the importance of vaccine mandates in Illinois 01:42

Americans are getting their COVID-19 vaccinations at a higher rate, according to newly updated figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The seven-day moving average pace of first doses accelerated for the first time in months, climbing for six consecutive days at the end of September. 

The moving  average showed 235,061 Americans started new COVID-19 vaccinations on September 25. That average climbed for six consecutive days to peak at 252,223 on September 30. Aside from single-day fluctuations, federal vaccination trends of first doses have mostly slowed since early August.  

Overall, 76% of Americans eligible for a shot of COVID-19 vaccine have received at least one dose, and 66% are fully vaccinated.  

This uptick comes as the Biden administration has been touting its efforts to promote vaccination requirements in the workplace, in hopes of strong-arming remaining holdouts into getting vaccinated. 

"Folks, vaccination requirements work, and there's nothing new about them,"  President Biden said Thursday in Illinois, praising companies that have put vaccination mandates in place. "They've been around for decades.  We've been living with these requirements throughout our lives." 

The White House released a report this week crediting requirements imposed by organizations and companies with "significant progress" in raising vaccination rates, as well as an array of economic benefits. 

The administration recently asked several large companies that do business with the federal government to impose vaccine mandates, including airlines. A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said the agency plans to issue emergency regulations requiring vaccinations in nursing homes and hospitals "in mid-to-late October." Mr. Biden said an emergency rule from the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration that would require vaccinations at large companies is expected "shortly."

"In total, this Labor Department vaccination requirement will cover 100 million Americans, about two-thirds of all the people who work in America," the president said.

The recent acceleration in first doses has unfolded unevenly across the U.S. CDC data show half of states averaging around the same or a slower pace of first doses compared to the week prior. 

Massachusetts, which this week became the second state to reach 90% of adult residents with at least one dose, has seen the fourth largest percentage increase in these vaccinations. First doses in Hawaii, the first to reach 90%, have mostly slowed in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, vaccinations among children have dropped nationwide, according to a weekly analysis by the American Academy of Pediatrics. First-dose vaccinations at the end of September slowed to "the lowest number since vaccines were available." 

The surge in first doses came as many Americans flocked to receive booster shots. Since August 13, when the government authorized additional doses for some who are  immunocompromised, 5,305,113 have received a booster shot of Pfizer's vaccine.

Pennsylvania is the most populous state to post a double-digit percentage increase in first doses. 

"Pennsylvanians continue to step up to get vaccinated every day, and we are proud of our continued progress," Maggi Barton, deputy press secretary for Pennsylvania's health department, said in an email. 

First doses in Pennsylvania have surged from below 9,000 daily on September 23 to over 15,000 earlier this month. Only New Hampshire has posted a larger percentage increase in first doses. Barton credited Pennsylvania's work "to educate and address vaccine hesitancy" with the uptick.

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