100 million shots in arms: U.S. meets vaccination goal early

Biden stands at a podium with a sign on it that reads "The Biden Plan to Beat COVID-19"
President Joe Biden discussing his administration's plan to beat COVID-19 in November 2020, before he took office. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

By the end of Friday (March 19), the U.S. will have administered 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine since President Joe Biden was inaugurated, a milestone that his administration initially pledged to reach by its hundredth day in office.

"I’m proud to announce that tomorrow, 58 days into our administration, we will have met our goal," President Joe Biden said at a press conference March 18, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Noting that millions more U.S. residents still need the shots, Biden said, "We're going to beat this; we're way ahead of schedule, but we've got a long way to go," according to NPR

Given that several of the vaccines cleared for emergency use require two doses, not everyone who's received a shot is fully vaccinated yet. The vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna both require two doses, given several weeks apart, while the recently authorized Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one injection.

Related: Quick guide: COVID-19 vaccines in use and how they work 

Overall, more than 115 million total vaccine doses have been administered since U.S residents began receiving shots in December 2020, according to Politifact. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 vaccine tracker shows that about 41 million people are fully vaccinated, and more than 75 million people have received at least one vaccine dose, Politifact reported. 

"Today, 65% of people aged 65 or older have received at least one shot, and 36% are fully vaccinated," Biden noted in his March 18 address. "And that’s key — because this is a population that represents 80% of the well over 500,000 COVID-19 deaths that have occurred in America."

The U.S. is now administering an average of 2.2 million doses each day, and that pace will likely quicken as the rate of vaccine manufacturing increases and more vaccines become cleared for use, according to the AP.

In addition to announcing the 100 million dose milestone, the White House shared details of a new plan to provide 4 million doses of the two-dose AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada, the AP reported. Two-and-a-half million doses of the vaccine will be sent to Mexico and the remaining 1.5 million will go to Canada.

The AstraZeneca shot has not been authorized for emergency use in the U.S. yet, but the country has already stockpiled tens of millions of doses, in anticipation of the coming clearance.

"Our first priority remains vaccinating the U.S. population," press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday, according to the AP. However, "ensuring our neighbors can contain the virus is a mission critical step, is mission critical to ending the pandemic," she said. 

The U.S. has not yet committed to sharing doses with additional countries through the COVAX alliance, an international effort backed by the World Health Organization to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to more than 90 lower- and middle-income nations, the AP reported. 

Earlier this month, the U.S. and other wealthy nations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) blocked a bid to waive patent rights to the vaccines, Reuters reported. The bid, backed by more than 80 lower-income countries, could allow more manufacturers to produce the shots and thus increase the available supply.

Originally published on Live Science. 

Nicoletta Lanese
Channel Editor, Health

Nicoletta Lanese is the health channel editor at Live Science and was previously a news editor and staff writer at the site. She holds a graduate certificate in science communication from UC Santa Cruz and degrees in neuroscience and dance from the University of Florida. Her work has appeared in The Scientist, Science News, the Mercury News, Mongabay and Stanford Medicine Magazine, among other outlets. Based in NYC, she also remains heavily involved in dance and performs in local choreographers' work.