By CNN staff | May 19, 2021 at 2:38 PM EDT – Updated May 19 at 2:38 PM
(CNN) – In the war against COVID-19, there’s some good news. Coronavirus cases are dropping nationwide.
“For the first time since the pandemic began, COVID cases are down in all 50 states,” said Andy Slavitt, a White House senior advisor in the coronavirus effort.
Vaccines have led to a dramatic decline in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, according to top U.S. health officials.
The progress is putting the nation on a path out of the pandemic.
“We should all have cautious optimism,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Cases have continued to decrease and have not been this low since spring of last year.”
But the key to keeping the country going in the right direction may lie with young Americans.
“We are winning the war on the pandemic and we need you to help us finish the job,” Slavitt said. “My message to young people is simple. Get vaccinated.”
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to be used in people as young as 12.
According to the CDC, more than 600,000 12 to 15-year-olds have had at least one dose of the vaccine.
CDC: What to expect at your COVID-19 vaccination appointment
In rural areas, vaccination rates remain lower overall.
“This was true for counties across the country, across all age groups and among men and women,” Walensky said.
Health officials continue to work to narrow the differences to make sure vaccine coverage is equitable regardless of where people live.
“If you haven’t yet been vaccinated, perhaps you will consider being a reason to celebrate one more.”
According to the CDC, about 60% of Americans 18 and older have now received at least one COVID -19 vaccine dose.
Copyright 2021 CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.