The latest on Covid-19 vaccines in the US

By Melissa Mahtani, Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 7:58 p.m. ET, October 20, 2021
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10:25 a.m. ET, October 20, 2021

Unvaccinated people are 18 times more likely to end up in hospital with Covid-19, CDC director says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

People who haven’t been vaccinated against Covid-19 are more than 18 times more likely to end up in the hospital with Covid-19 than vaccinated people, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday.

A new CDC data tool shows the value of vaccinating people against the virus, Walensky told a White House briefing. She showed some graphs generated by the new tool and said unvaccinated people were more than 11 times more likely to die.

“In August, as we were experiencing the peak of the Delta surge, 16 jurisdictions provided data on cases and deaths stratified by vaccination status. Unvaccinated people had 6.1 times greater risk of testing positive for Covid-19 shown on the left, and 11.3 times greater risk of dying from Covid-19, shown on the right, when compared to those who are fully vaccinated, shown by the light blue line at the bottom,” she added.

“For the week ending August 28, 2021, the hospitalization rate in fully vaccinated people was 4.5 per 100,000, shown by the green line, while the hospitalization rate in unvaccinated people was 83.6 per 100,000, shown by the blue line — an 18.5 fold increase in hospitalizations for those who are unvaccinated," she said.

But Walensky said the number of cases and deaths was improving very slightly. “As of yesterday, the seven day daily average of cases was about 75,500 cases per day, which represents a decrease of about 16% over the prior week. The seven day average of hospital admissions was about 6,000 per day — also, a decrease of about 11% from the prior week. And the seven day average of daily deaths were about, 1,200 per day, a decrease of about 3% from the previous week.”


10:12 a.m. ET, October 20, 2021

Getting young kids vaccinated will "play a major role" in slowing Covid-19 spread, Fauci says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Getting most children vaccinated against Covid-19 will "play a major role" in slowing the spread of disease and pushing the nation closer to herd immunity, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday. 

About 28 million children ages 5 to 11 will soon become eligible to get vaccinated against Covid-19 if the US Food and Drug Administration authorizes shots for this age group and if the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it.  

“In the era of Delta, children get infected as readily as adults do. And they transmit the infection as readily as adults do. We may not appreciate that, because about 50% of the infections in children are asymptomatic,” Fauci told a White House Covid-19 briefing.

"If we can get the overwhelming majority of those 28 million children vaccinated, I think that would play a major role in diminishing the spread of infection in the community," said Fauci, who is chief medical adviser to President Biden and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

"That's one of the reasons why we want to do as best as we can to get those children from 5 to 11 vaccinated."


9:49 a.m. ET, October 20, 2021

White House plans education campaign for parents on coronavirus vaccines for young kids

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

The White House plans to launch a nationwide public education campaign for parents of children ages 5 to 11 about the safety and effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines —including sending letters to parents and hosting forums, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Wednesday.  

"We're preparing a national public education campaign that will meet parents where they are with information about the vaccines," Murthy told a White House briefing.

The campaign is part of a larger program preparing for the anticipated authorization of a coronavirus vaccine for young children by the US Food and Drug Administration and sign off by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We will work with schools to send letters home to parents. We will convene doctors and health clinics and support them in delivering vaccinations as soon as they have conversations with families," Murthy said.

"We will provide faith leaders with materials and toolkits that they can distribute to their congregations. We will create forums for parents to ask questions to health experts," Murthy said. "With all of this, we will make sure that we are reaching parents in their language and through the people they trust." 

Murthy mentioned that he is the parent of a 5-year-old. "One of the barriers and challenges we will face to getting vaccines to children is a similar barrier we face with adults, which is that there's a profound amount of misinformation that is circulating about vaccines. And that's why we're making sure that it's trusted messengers with scientific credibility who go out there and talk about these vaccines," Murthy said. 

"But it is our collective responsibility — whether we're in government, in the media, whether we're individuals — to help prevent the flow and spread of misinformation online," Murthy said. "We have a role to play in ensuring that parents have accurate information, and that's going to be really one of the keys to making sure that they can get the vaccine and ultimately protect their children.”


9:29 a.m. ET, October 20, 2021

White House details how it plans to rollout Covid-19 vaccines for kids

From CNN's DJ Judd

White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients outlined the administration’s plans to deploy Covid-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11, contingent on approval by the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including a number of operations geared specifically towards vaccinating children. 

“We expect the FDA and CDC’s decision on Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 in the next couple of weeks. We know millions of parents have been waiting for Covid-19 vaccine for kids in this age group, and should the FDA and CDC authorize the vaccine, we will be ready to get shots in arms,” Zients told reporters during Wednesday’s Covid briefing. 

“Together we're completing the operational planning to ensure vaccinations for kids ages 5 through 11 are available, easy, and convenient,” Zients said, boasting the administration has been working closely “with governors, pediatricians, pharmacies, community health centers, rural health centers and other vaccine providers to prepare for this moment.” 

On vaccine supply, Zients said the administration has already “secured vaccine supply to vaccinate every child ages 5 through 11, and as soon as the vaccine is authorized by the FDA, we will begin shipping millions of doses nationwide.” The administration has already partnered with vaccine manufacturer Pfizer to modify vaccine packaging “to modify the packaging of the pediatric doses to make it easier for pediatricians, family doctors, and other providers to provide vaccines to children.”

“These vaccine doses will be shipped with all the supplies needed to vaccinate kids, including smaller needles,” Zients added.

To actually get shots in arms, Zients has “already enrolled more than 25,000, pediatricians, and doctors and other primary care providers to administer vaccines, and we're working with states and localities to enroll more,” while setting up vaccination sites in school districts and children’s hospitals, “including on nights and weekends,” to ensure vaccinating kids “is even more convenient.” 


9:46 a.m. ET, October 20, 2021

CDC forecasts predict new Covid-19 deaths are likely to decrease over next 4 weeks 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Healthcare workers put on PPE gear before entering a Covid-19 patient's room at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital in Lake Forest, Illinois, on October 1.
Healthcare workers put on PPE gear before entering a Covid-19 patient's room at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital in Lake Forest, Illinois, on October 1. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Ensemble forecasts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Wednesday project that new Covid-19 deaths and hospitalizations will continue to decrease over the next four weeks for the fourth and sixth consecutive week, respectively. 

The latest forecast predicts that there will be a total of 748,000 to 769,000 Covid-19 deaths reported by Nov. 13.

The previous forecast, published Oct. 13, predicted up to 762,000 Covid-19 deaths reported by Nov. 6. 

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been 728,313 Covid-19 deaths in the United States. 

The CDC forecast predicts that there will be 1,600 to 8,700 new confirmed Covid-19 hospital admissions likely reported on Nov. 12. 

As of Oct. 19, there were 57,424 people hospitalized with Covid-19, according to data from US Health and Human Services. 

The case forecasts did not predict an increase or decrease in cases.  

“Case forecasts were not assessed for likely increases or decreases because more reported cases than expected have fallen outside the forecast prediction intervals,” CDC said.

9:06 a.m. ET, October 20, 2021

NYC mayor says about 46,000 city workers remain unvaccinated as he announces new mandate

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said extending the city’s vaccine mandate to all municipal workers will help protect New Yorkers against Covid-19. 

“My job is to keep New Yorkers safe, and the vaccine is what does it,” de Blasio said during an interview on CNN.

All city workers will need to have at least one vaccine dose by 5 p.m. ET on Oct. 29. They will receive an extra $500 for getting vaccinated at a city-run site by that date. 

De Blasio said about 46,000 city employees are not yet vaccinated. 

“I want to protect them, I want to protect their families, I want to protect all the people that they come in contact with in the city,” he said. “And look, law enforcement has borne the brunt of Covid.” 

If they choose not to get vaccinated, the workers will go on unpaid leave, the mayor said.

De Blasio added that 96% of both education and healthcare workers are vaccinated. Both sectors have been under vaccine mandates since late September

“The mandates work. … Every mayor in America, every governor, every CEO of a company should do the same thing so we can end the Covid era,” he said. 


8:56 a.m. ET, October 20, 2021

NOW: White House Covid-19 team provides details on their plan for kids' vaccines

The White House Covid-19 response team and federal public health officials is holding a news briefing to provide updates on their coronavirus response effort.

Earlier Wednesday, the White House unveiled its plans to roll out Covid-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11, pending US Food and Drug Administration authorization.

"Today the Biden Administration is announcing a plan to ensure that, if a vaccine is authorized for children ages 5-11, it is quickly distributed and made conveniently and equitably available to families across the country," it said in a news release.

The Biden administration has secured enough vaccine supply to vaccinate the 28 million children ages 5 to 11 who would become eligible for vaccination if the vaccine is authorized for that age group and will help equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of community health centers and rural health clinics as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies to administer the shots, according to the White House.

Speakers attending the briefing include:

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the President
  • US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy
  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Jeff Zients, White House Covid-19 response coordinator
8:55 a.m. ET, October 20, 2021

US must be prepared to get Covid-19 vaccines to kids as soon as possible, surgeon general says

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

As the White House on Wednesday unveiled its plans to roll out vaccines for children ages 5 to 11, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said on NBC’s Today that US health officials want to be prepared for children to be able to get vaccines as soon as they can. 

“The bottom line is that we have to be prepared to ensure that we can get vaccines to families as soon as the FDA and the CDC issue their decision,” Murthy said, when asked if he was worried about moving too fast and leading to confusion. “That preparation takes planning, it takes time, and that’s why we’ve been working very hard to do a few things over the last several weeks to months.” 

These preparations include ensuring there is enough supply for every child in the 5- to 11-year-old age range, making sure there are tens of thousands of locations where people can get the vaccines and making sure that parents have answers to their questions and accurate scientific information that can be used in decision making, Murthy said. 

He said that ensuring that parents had the answers to their questions was “really important,” and so they have been working hard with doctors, nurses, teachers, parents and other community organizations to make sure that people can get the answers to their questions from trusted sources. 

8:38 a.m. ET, October 20, 2021

Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine 93% effective in preventing hospitalizations among adolescents, CDC study finds

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

(Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Pfizer/BioNTech)
(Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Pfizer/BioNTech)

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 93% effective in preventing hospitalization due to Covid-19 among children ages 12 to 18, according to a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine effectiveness differed only slightly within that age group, with 91% effectiveness for children age 12 to 15 and 94% effectiveness for those age 16 to 18.

The study included 464 patients — 179 hospitalized with Covid-19 and 285 hospitalized for other reasons — across 19 pediatric hospitals in 16 states between June and September 2021, a time period when the Delta variant was dominant. The majority of patients had at least one underlying condition (72%) and attended in-person school (68%), and most patients were from southern states, as Covid-19 transmission was high in that region during this timeframe.

Patients were considered fully vaccinated against Covid-19 if they had received their second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at least 14 days before illness onset. Those partially vaccinated — with only one dose or with less than 14 days since the second dose — were excluded from the analysis. 

Among the 179 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 in the study, all of the critically ill patients were unvaccinated. About 43% (77 patients) were admitted to an intensive care unit, 29 received life support during hospitalization and two died.

Since August 2020, more than 65,000 children have been hospitalized with Covid-19 and nearly 700 have died, according to CDC data.