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US begins biggest vaccination effort in history

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The biggest vaccination campaign in U.S. history kicked off Monday as health workers rolled up their sleeves for shots to protect them from COVID-19 and start beating back the pandemic — a day of optimism even as the nation’s death toll closed in on 300,000.

Senior U.S. officials will begin receiving coronavirus vaccines this week as part of updated federal continuity of government plans that now include pandemics as threats to the nation and its leaders.

— Economic fallout from the pandemic has set back decades of progress against the most severe forms of malnutrition and is likely to kill 168,000 children before any global recovery takes hold, according to a study released by 30 international organizations.

THE NUMBERS: The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks from about 162,000 on Nov. 29 to 214,000 on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

DEATH TOLL: The U.S. death toll of over 300,000 rivals the population of St. Louis or Pittsburgh. It is equivalent to repeating a tragedy on the scale of Hurricane Katrina every day for 5 1/2 months.

QUOTABLE: “I feel hopeful today. Relieved. I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.” — Sandra Lindsay, registered nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and recipient of the COVID-19 vaccine.

ICYMI: As deaths from the coronavirus spike across the country, a new poll finds little increase in alarm among Americans about COVID-19 infections and no significant change in opinion about how the government should act to slow the spread.