New vaccinations have nearly doubled from last month

▶ Watch Video: Pediatric COVID infections rise as some school districts impose mask mandates

The average pace of first doses being administered across the United States has nearly doubled from a month ago, according to a federal government tally. The uptick is the latest sign of growing interest in the shots amid surging COVID-19 cases around the country and a push to vaccinate children ahead of the new school year.

Nationwide, the country was averaging around 441,198 new vaccinations per day as of August 5, according to figures released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That represents a 95% increase from the mere 226,209 average of first doses recorded a month prior, on July 5.

The sharp turnaround comes after the average pace of new vaccinations had been plummeting for months, bottoming out around 218,696 on July 7.

Since then, the pace of first doses has steadily climbed in nearly every state. Some of the largest increases have come in areas that had long lagged the nationwide vaccination average, and are now besieged by spikes in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

In Alabama, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S., the average pace of new vaccinations has climbed more than 100% according to the CDC’s figures from July 22. The next largest increase was in Louisiana, where first shots have accelerated 84%, followed by Nebraska and Minnesota. Alabama and Louisiana are among the states that have seen some of most severe COVID-19 surges so far this summer.

The largest share of first doses in the past two weeks has gone to adults between 25 and 39 years old. That group made up more than 25% of all Americans who started their COVID-19 vaccination regimens over the past two weeks.

Some of those new first doses may have been driven by a growing list of employers moving to push their workers to get the shots, including hospital employees and government workers. The share of unvaccinated Americans who said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine “only if required” fell from 6% to 3% last month, according to a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

However, the largest uptick in first doses over the past month has been in children. More than 4 in 10 adolescents, ages 12 to 15 years old, now have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — up 8.5% from a month prior. The share of older teens who have had at least one shot climbed 6.5 percentage points over the past month to more than 50% nationwide.

The Biden administration last week touted its own efforts to aid school districts in getting students vaccinated. For older teens headed to college, some 675 campuses have moved to require vaccinations for at least some of their students or staff, according to a tally by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

And with many children still yet to be fully vaccinated, many public health experts have renewed calls for states not to loosen mitigation measures ahead of the next school year.

“Despite high adult vaccination, the risks of both in-school SARS-CoV-2 transmission and resulting infections among students, educators/staff, and their household members remain high when the delta variant predominates and students are unvaccinated,” concluded the authors of a recent study funded in part by the CDC, which has yet to be peer-reviewed.

While children tend to face less severe symptoms of the disease, many are now flooding into hospitals at record numbers with COVID-19. Federal health officials have said they are investigating surging cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant among children.

“Look, I understand that there are millions of people who decided — adults — who decided not to get vaccinated. And I understand that to badger those folks is not likely to get them to move and get vaccinated,” President Biden told reporters Tuesday. “But I also understand that the reason children are becoming infected is because, in most cases, they live in low-vaccination-rate states and communities, and they’re getting it from unvaccinated adults.”

“And so, my plea is that for those who are not vaccinated: Think about it,” the president added.

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