Washington, June 6: The slowing COVID-19 vaccination rate is worrying experts that the US may miss July 4 deadline to inoculate 70 per cent of its adult population. US officials are warning against complacency and states are ramping up measures to encourage reluctant residents to get a COVID-19 vaccine to achieve the vaccination goal set by President Joe Biden for July 4, reported CNN.
More than 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses are being administered on an average per day in the country as of Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That's down from a peak average in early April of 3.3 million per day. About 63.2 per cent of US adults had at least one dose as of Friday morning, according to the CDC. Were the country to maintain its current pace, the US wouldn't hit the 70 per cent target until mid-to-late July.
Twelve states have already met Biden's one-dose goal: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, reported CNN. As the country pushes for more vaccinations, evidence has mounted that the mass vaccination programs have helped to push daily infections and deaths lower.
Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Friday that the best way for the country to avoid Covid-19 surges and further economic pain is to get vaccinated.
"It ain't over 'til it's over -- and it is not over yet," Fauci said at an event hosted by US Health and Human Services. Complacency, he said, could lead to "another surge -- particularly with variants floating around -- that could set us back to the time when we had to shut down things." Communities and regions with low vaccination rates still may be prime candidates for outbreaks, experts have said and could pose risks not just for unvaccinated adults, but also for children who aren't yet eligible to be vaccinated or just became eligible, reported CNN.
The US has averaged about 14,300 new cases a day over the last week, down from around 71,300 daily in mid-April, according to Johns Hopkins University data. That's also well below the country's peak average, above 250,000 daily reached in early January, according to Johns Hopkins. Nearly 170 million people in the US -- just over half of the country's total population -- have received at least one dose of vaccine, and about 137.5 million people -- 41.4 per cent of the population -- are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Meanwhile, a multitude of states and companies in the last month have hoped to create demand for vaccines by awarding prizes to those inoculated.
The latest is Hawaii, which is offering a variety of donated prizes, including vacation packages and airline miles, to help reach vaccination milestones as soon as possible, reported CNN.
In Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear announced the state's new COVID-19 vaccine incentive which will give vaccinated adults "a shot at a million dollars. In Colorado, Governor Jared Polis presented Sally Sliger with a super-sized check for USD 1 million as the winner of the first drawing in the state's 'Comeback Cash' initiative.
Further, as vaccines continue to go into the arms of eligible teens and adults, health officials remain concerned about the safety of children. Only those ages 12 years and older are currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the US -- and children ages 12-15 became eligible only last month, reported CNN. Hospitalization rates for adolescents rose in April, after having fallen from January to mid-March, research that the CDC published Friday showed.
The increase might be related to more transmissible coronavirus variants, large numbers of children returning to school and other indoor activities, and changes in physical distancing, mask-wearing and other prevention behaviours, researchers wrote. This is a reminder that children "can still suffer and be hospitalized by this virus," Dr Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said Friday.
Meanwhile, the CDC said that vaccinated people may stop wearing masks in most cases, but unvaccinated people should continue to use them. The FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), is set to meet on June 10 to discuss what the FDA should consider in either authorizing or approving the use of coronavirus vaccines in children under 12. Both Moderna and Pfizer are running trials for their vaccines in children ages 11 and under, reported CNN. (ANI)
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