Ahead of the Food and Drug Administration's expected authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents aged 12-15 by early next week, the White House is also developing plans to speed vaccinations to that age group. Biden, the White House said, would "challenge" states to administer at least one dose to that age group by July Fourth and work to deliver doses to pediatricians' offices and other trusted locations, with the aim of getting as many of them fully vaccinated by the start of the next school year.
While younger people are at dramatically lower risk of serious complications from COVID-19, they have made up a larger share of new virus cases as a majority of U.S. adults have been at least partially vaccinated and as higher-risk activities like indoor dining and contact sports have resumed in most of the country. Officials hope that extending vaccinations to teens will further accelerate the nation’s reduced virus caseload and allow schools to reopen with minimal disruptions this fall.
Biden's speech comes as the White House announced a shift away from a strict by-population allocation of vaccines. The administration says that when states decline the vaccine they have been allocated, that surplus will shift to states still awaiting doses to meet demand. Those states would have the shots available whenever demand for vaccines in their states increases — a key priority of the Biden administration.
Governors were informed of the change by the White House Tuesday morning. The Washington Post first reported on the new allocation.
This week, Iowa turned down nearly three quarters of the vaccine doses available to the state for next week from the federal government because demand for the shots remains weak.
The White House previously resisted efforts to shift vaccine by metrics other than population, with Biden rebuffing Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last month when she requested more doses as her state was experiencing a surge in virus cases. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at the time nearly all states were ordering at or near their population allocations, which is no longer the case.
Individual states have made similar shifts internally to account for changing demand. Last week, Washington state changed the way it allocates coronavirus vaccine to its counties. Previously the state doled out supplies to counties proportionate to their populations. But Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday that the amounts now will be based on requests from health care providers.
President Joe Biden speaks at Tidewater Community College, Monday, May 3, 2021, in Portsmouth, Va. Biden and the first lady are in coastal Virginia to promote his plans to increase spending on education and children, part of his $1.8 trillion families proposal announced last week. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Credit: Evan Vucci
Credit: Evan Vucci