WASHINGTON — More than 5.6 million Covid vaccine and booster shots were administered in the past week, the highest seven-day total in the U.S. since January, a Biden administration official said.
The new numbers, first shared with NBC News, outpace the previous weekly sums by about 1 million.
About 5.1 million of the past week’s shots were bivalent boosters, designed to combat the most virulent strains of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. That is the peak since the start of the government’s fall vaccination program for updated doses, the official said.
The administration official said the White House is encouraged by the progress and a “strong, steady pace” but emphasized that more people still need to “step up” heading into winter.
In total, 32 million people in the U.S. have received the bivalent booster, just a small fraction of the hundreds of millions who are eligible.
So far, 15 million seniors have already gotten their boosters, but the White House would like that number to increase, as well, given that the elderly are more at risk for severe outcomes from the coronavirus.
Overall, as Covid cases and hospitalizations have come down nationwide, the White House has shifted its tone to focus more on learning to live with the virus than letting it dictate daily life.
“After 20 months of hard work, the pandemic no longer controls our lives. It’s still a concern, but it no longer controls our lives,” President Joe Biden said at a news conference Wednesday.
Biden got his updated vaccination last month, around 90 days after he had the virus — the recommended waiting period for people who have been infected.
Senior administration officials have warned in recent weeks about a possible winter surge, particularly as people spend more time indoors.
The administration plans to launch a push next week to increase the rate of vaccinations and boosters by the holidays. The effort will include working with local and national organizations to encourage people to get their shots by next week so they’re considered protected by Thanksgiving.