Americans begin getting COVID-19 shots as deaths top 300,000

Dec. 15, 2020

States announced the arrival of their first COVID-19 vaccine shipments yesterday, as the first Americans, mostly healthcare workers, appeared in front of cameras to receive the first doses on a day that the nation passed the grim threshold of 300,000 deaths, reported the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP). 

Developments moved quickly over the weekend with actions by federal agencies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formally approved emergency use for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine the evening of December 11. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) accepted the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendation that people ages 16 years and older should receive it, with health workers and nursing home residents immunized first. The CDC detailed the ACIP recommendations in an early release Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report document. 

Federal officials say the first shipments will be staggered, with vaccine arriving at 145 distribution centers today, 425 sites getting deliveries tomorrow, and the remaining 66 on December 16, according to the Associated Press. 

Though nursing home residents are among the groups targeted to receive the first doses, only four states are ready to begin administering them to residents and staff, according to the Washington Post. In an update, Operation Warp Speed chief operating officer Gen. Gustave Perna didn't name the states that are ready, but said most won't begin until next week, because the immunizations can't be given until nursing home staff have obtained written consent from residents or their family members. 

The nation added 1,389 deaths to its fatality total, and with more reported today, the overall number passed 300,000, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard. The nation crossed the 200,000 death threshold on September 22. The US COVID-19 total has climbed to 16,522,123 confirmed cases, and 300,723 people have died from their infections, and there are 73,011,733 global cases, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. 

In its latest fatality projections, the CDC estimates that deaths will total between 332,000 and 362,000 by the week ending January 2. 

CIDRAP has the report. 

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