U.S. ramps up vaccinations amid new U.K. fears

Nursing home residents began receiving coronavirus vaccine doses on Monday as the U.S. government and two of the nation's largest pharmacy chains kicked off the next phase of vaccine distribution.

The U.S. has authorized two vaccines against the virus, one developed by Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech that was cleared for use on Dec. 11 and one by Moderna that was approved last Friday.

Some 2.9 million shots of the Pfizer vaccine were distributed last week and mostly given to healthcare workers, and some of the first Moderna injections were administered on Monday in Connecticut.

President-elect Joe Biden was among those on Monday to receive a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccination in a public display to boost confidence in its safety.

BIDEN: "I'm doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared when it's available to take the vaccine. There's nothing to worry about."

The long-awaited hope provided by the vaccines was somewhat overshadowed, however, by a new highly infectious strain of the virus in Britain that on Monday forced several countries to close their borders to those traveling from the U.K.

India, Pakistan, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Jordan and Hong Kong suspended travel for Britons -- and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called upon the U.S. government to do the same - or to at least make sure that every passenger traveling to the U.S. from Britain is tested before boarding his or her flight - something Cuomo said more than 120 other countries had done.

CUOMO: "Why don't we mandate testing before people get on the flight or halt the flights from the UK now?"

Cuomo said he personally asked the three airlines that fly to New York from Britain - British Airways, Delta and Virgin Atlantic - to test passengers before they board.

Both British Airways and Delta have agreed to do so.

The U.S. death toll has accelerated in recent weeks to 2,627 per day on a seven-day average, with the total number now at more than 317,000.

Video Transcript

- Nursing home residents began receiving coronavirus vaccine doses on Monday, as the US government and two of the nation's largest pharmacy chains kicked off the next phase of vaccine distribution. The US has authorized two vaccines against the virus, one developed by Pfizer and Germany's BeyondTech that was cleared for use on December 11, and one by Moderna that was approved last Friday.

Some 2.9 million shots of the Pfizer vaccine were distributed last week and mostly given to health care workers. And some of the first Moderna injections were administered on Monday in Connecticut.

JOE BIDEN: Anytime you're ready.

- President-elect Joe Biden was among those on Monday to receive a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccination in a public display to boost confidence in its safety.

JOE BIDEN: I'm doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared when it's available to take the vaccine. There's nothing to worry about.

- The long awaited hope provided by the vaccines was somewhat overshadowed, however, by a new highly infectious strain of the virus in Britain that on Monday forced several countries to close their borders to those traveling from the UK. India, Pakistan, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Jordan, and Hong Kong suspended travel for Britons. And New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called upon the US government to do the same-- or at least make sure that every passenger traveling to the US from Britain is tested before boarding his or her flight, something Cuomo said more than 120 other countries had done.

ANDREW CUOMO: Why don't we mandate testing before people get on the flight or halt the flights from the UK now?

- Cuomo said he personally asked the three airlines that fly to New York from Britain-- British Airways, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic-- to test passengers before they board. Both British Airways and Delta have agreed to do so. The US death toll has accelerated in recent weeks to 2,627 per day on a seven-day average, with the total number now at more than 317,000