US surpasses 100 million Covid shots in vaccine race

President Joe Biden hopes to move the nation closer to normal by July 4

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 10, 2021, a nurse prepares the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine a public housing project pop-up site targeting vulnerable communities in Los Angeles, California. US President Joe Biden's administration on March 12, 2021, announced new personnel such as dentists, veterinarians and health care students will be recruited to the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination effort. The move came as the country was poised to soon administer the 100 millionth shot since its inoculation campaign began on December 14.  / AFP / Frederic J. BROWN

The US has administered more than 101 million Covid-19 vaccinations, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Friday.

It marks a milestone for the country that has the highest death toll in the world, three months into a massive vaccination programme.

About 10.5 per cent of the adult population in the US has been fully vaccinated, the agency said,  and almost  20 per cent – 65 million people – have had at least one dose.

The two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine are being used throughout the country.

The agency says more than 133 million vaccines have been distributed to US states.

When he introduced key members of his health team on December 8 last year, President Joe Biden set a goal of reaching 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days.

The Biden administration has continued to bump up orders from vaccine makers, including a recent order of another 100 million shots from Johnson & Johnson.

Mr Biden announced Thursday night in his first national prime time address that there will be enough vaccines for the entire US adult population by the end of May.

He also ordered all states to open up vaccination eligibility before May 1, moving beyond the first groups of people at high risk of suffering severe effects of Covid-19 and essential workers.

"I need you, the American people, I need you," Mr Biden said. "I need every American to do their part.

"And that's not hyperbole. I need you. I need you to get vaccinated when it's your turn and when you can find an opportunity. And to help your family, your friends, your neighbours get vaccinated as well."

Mr Biden's goal is to move the country "closer to normal" by July 4, the nation's independence day.

Scientists suggest herd immunity requires at least 80 per cent of the US population to be fully vaccinated.

"America is coming back," he said.

"The development, manufacturing and distribution of vaccines in record time is a true miracle of science. It's one of the most extraordinary achievements any country has ever accomplished."

The US has recorded more than 531,000 deaths from Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The country also leads the world with the most known cases, at about 30 million infections.

Mr Biden continues to emphasise caution amid the vaccine race.

While hospital admissions and infections are declining, the US still records more than 60,000 infections daily – similar to levels seen during the country's summer surge in 2020.

Between 1,500 and 1,800 people are dying from Covid-19 in the US each day.

"We need everyone to keep washing their hands, stay socially distanced and keep wearing the mask," he said.

Several states are taking steps towards reopening at levels not seen before in the pandemic, while fears persist of a possible small fourth surge.

Public health officials are keeping an eye on some variants with higher transmissibility, which are growing in number nationwide.

"This is not the time to let up," Mr Biden said. "Just as we were emerging from a dark winter into a hopeful spring and summer, it is not the time to not stick with the rules."