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U.S. vaccinated 600,000 12-15 year olds last week

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CDC DIRECTOR ROCHELLE WALENSKY: "The past week has been a big week."

The White House COVID-19 Response Team announced on Tuesday that since regulators cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds, around 600,000 in that age group have been vaccinated in what CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has said is an important step for getting children back into schools and off to summer camps safely.

WALENSKY: "In less than one week, we have vaccinated more than 600,000 12 to 15-year-olds and, in total, more than 4.1 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 have been vaccinated so far. My own son was one of them."

The nation's top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, said he expects the U.S. will have enough safety data to vaccinate children of any age by the end of 2021.

FAUCI: "It is likely and almost certain that by the time we get to the end of this calendar year and the first quarter of 2022 that we will have enough information regarding safety and immunogenicity to vaccinate children of any age."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12 last week. Most states began issuing shots to children last Thursday but some, including Georgia, started sooner.

WHO DIRECTOR-GENERAL TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS: "Lower risk groups are now being vaccinated."

On Friday, the World Health Organization urged rich countries to reconsider plans to vaccinate children and instead donate COVID-19 shots to poorer countries, saying the second year of the pandemic was set to be more deadly than the first, with India being a huge concern.

GHEBREYESUS: "I understand why some countries want to vaccinate their children and adolescents. But, right now, I urge them to reconsider and to instead donate vaccines to COVAX."

At Tuesday's briefing, Fauci said that existing COVID-19 shots probably also protect against the new variant of the coronavirus first found in India, which has been battling the world's biggest jump in COVID-19 infections.