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Covid vaccine: Biden unveils plan to vaccinate young Americans

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US President Joe Biden has announced new vaccine targets, including a plan to jab young teenagers once a Covid-19 vaccine is approved for children.

It comes as US drug officials consider approving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, which could happen as early as next week.

A new study shows that US children account for 22% of new daily Covid cases, up from 3% last year.

The announcement could ease fears for parents about school’s re-opening.

The president’s new plan also targets vaccine-hesitant groups with incentives and by making the jab more accessible.

Around half of Americans have gotten their first jab and one third are fully vaccinated, but vaccination rates have slowed in recent weeks.

What’s the plan for teens?

The US Food and Drug Administration is weighing whether to approve the Pfizer vaccine for children as young as 12.

Pfizer’s vaccine is currently approved in the US for people as young as 16.

Mr Biden said he would not interfere with the FDA process, but “if that announcement comes, we are ready to move immediately,” he pledged.

In a speech at the White House, Mr Biden said that shipments of vaccine will be sent directly to paediatricians allowing children to get their first dose from their medical provider.

“Easy, fast and free,” Mr Biden said, adding that 15,000 pharmacies will also be made available to teenagers to get their jab.

“And if teens are on the move this summer they can get their first shot in one place and get their second shot elsewhere,” he added.

Experts, such as top US researcher Dr Anthony Fauci, say it is necessary to vaccinate children in order for life to return to normal.

What incentives are being offered?

Mr Biden also announced that he was speaking to US businesses to announce shopping discounts for vaccinated Americans.

“We’re working with major sports leagues to launch special promotions for their fans. Things like ticket giveaways, in-stadium vaccinations, discounts on merchandise and other creative ways to make it easier and more fun to get vaccinated,” he said.

Mr Biden also pleaded with Americans who are sceptical of the vaccine to get it anyway, for the sake of their community.

“Even if your chance of getting seriously ill [from Covid] is low, why take the risk when you have a safe, free and convenient way to prevent it?” he asked.

Several US companies have already offered rewards for the vaccinated.

Doughnut company Krispy Kreme is offering a free sweet for the rest of the year to anyone who can prove their vaccination.

A cinema in Ohio is offering free popcorn to those who get the vaccine, and some cannabis dispensaries around the country are offering deals to anyone with a vaccination card.

Other major companies are offering time off for employees to get vaccinated. Grocery chain Kroger is offering a $100 (£72) store credit to employees who are vaccinated and car parts company AutoZone is offering $100 to customers who have had their shots.

What are Biden’s new targets?

The president set a goal of 4 July – American independence day – of getting a first jab to 70% of adult Americans. He also set an aim of having 160m Americans fully vaccinated by that date.

“In two months let’s celebrate independence as a nation and our independence from this virus. We can do this and we will do this,” he said.

Mr Biden has previously set the goal for life to be “back to normal” by that date.

“After a long, hard year, that will make this Independence Day truly special – where we not only mark our independence as a nation but we begin to mark our independence from this virus,” he said in March.

Mr Biden also announced a new website, vaccines.gov, that Americans can use to more easily find vaccination sites.

This post courtesy of BBC-World

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