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America hits 50 million vaccines administered, as country races against new variants

Health care professionals say we need to get 3 to 5 million shots in arms per day. Currently, the U.S. is vaccinating around 1.7 million Americans a day.

TAMPA, Fla. — More than 50 million Americans have now received the COVID-19 vaccine. A milestone on a journey that is far from over. 

“We were always going to get to 50 million at some point," said Dr. Michael Teng, a virologist at USF Health. Rather than focus on the 50 million mark, Teng is looking at the rate of vaccination. "But how quickly is it ramping up? Because, you know, it is a bit of a race against some of these newer variants, we really do need to get, you know, transmission down and vaccinations up.”

And while he appreciates President Biden's goal of 100 million doses in arms in his first 100 days in office, Teng says the goal is not big enough, “100 million in 100 days is really 1 million a day, and that is just not going to be sufficient," said Teng. “The goal should be like three to five million people, three to five million doses a day.”

The good news—we’re getting closer. “And we are on our way to getting there. I mean, you know, we're now at 1.7 million doses a day. So, you know, the trend, the trend is really promising,” said Teng.

Vaccination rates have increased as the kinks of the process are slowly, but surely figured out.

"Frankly, the other thing is that, you know, through the fiascos of the first few weeks, you learn what's not working. And you you know, the people who are charged, the good ones will fix it," said Teng.

Another thing that will likely help, more vaccines getting FDA approval. Johnson and Johnson's vaccine could be next. They have filed their paperwork with the FDA, and the meeting to discuss their vaccine is set for Feb. 26. 

Teng feels hopeful that it will be approved, “Based on the top line data that we've seen, it's very likely that it will be approved.”

If it is, the US will have a new, single-dose vaccine in the mix. “The benefit is that it's a single dose vaccine. So that'll be easier. And it doesn't have the same logistic problems. It doesn't have to be frozen and kept at ultra low temperature so it's more stable at room temperature or even in the refrigerator," said Teng.qa

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RELATED: CDC: More than 50 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered

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