Over 250 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have now been administered to Americans ages 16 and over, striking an air of hope that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this number translates to over 105 million Americans fully vaccinated with 147 million with at least one dose of vaccine. Here is the latest on the pandemic and the fight to keep the virus under control.
Biden’s Latest Vaccination Goal
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced a new goal in the effort to get as many Americans vaccinated as possible. The president and his administration now have a goal of administering at least one dose of the vaccine to 70% of adult Americans by July 4. In addition, the set of goals include having at least 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by the same date.
All of this outreach is intended to reach the Americans that have been more hesitant to seek out a vaccine. While the early vaccination goals were all about making sure there was enough vaccine to meet demand, there is now a definitive shift in how the Biden team is treating the rollout. The new strategy aims to combat vaccine hesitancy and make it easier for all Americans to easily find the vaccine where it is convenient for them.
To be able to reach these goals, the Biden administration is allocating a significant amount of money to the effort. Almost $860 million is earmarked for rural health clinics and hospitals for both testing and treatment. Over $130 million will be sent to boost vaccine educational efforts designed to mitigate vaccine hesitance. Lastly, nearly $250 million will be doled out to states, cities, and other local jurisdictions to pay for the next phase of vaccination.
3 States Already at Biden’s Goal
With two months to go until the July 4 deadline, there are already three states that have already reached Biden’s 70% vaccination goal. According to the latest CDC data, those states are New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont. In addition, Connecticut, Maine, and Hawaii are at two-thirds of the way to the goal.
States Holding Back
Along with the good news of the states roaring toward the finish line of the goal, there are also a handful of states that are demonstrating high levels of vaccine hesitancy. Over 25% of all adults in Wyoming have expressed that they will likely not get the vaccine, according to results from a survey out of the Census Bureau. Over 20% of adults in Montana, Kentucky, North Dakota, and Ohio also expressed the same sentiments.
In light of these percentages, it is no surprise that vaccine levels have plummeted in recent weeks. As of Wednesday’s vaccine report, the daily vaccination rate has dropped almost 20% from last week.
New Pfizer Authorization Imminent
One bit of good news on the vaccine front is that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to approve the emergency use authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15. Currently, the two-dose Pfizer vaccine is only available to those individuals 16 and over. The FDA stamp of approval is expected to happen by early next week.
This approval will open up the vaccination eligibility to another 5% of the US population, helping it to get closer to the goals set by the Biden team in the coming months. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the approval for the vaccine for kids over the age of 2 should come in late 2021 or early 2022.
On Wednesday, Canada announced that the Pfizer vaccine is now available for those in the 12-15 age group.
Boosters on the Way
One of the biggest questions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines is how long the protection will last. Health experts acknowledge that there will likely be a need for boosters in the future. Pharmaceutical company Moderna released promising study results on Wednesday when it announced that a booster shot containing a half-dose of the current vaccine will protect the body against two of the most dangerous variants now in circulation.
These ongoing studies are delivering confidence that the vaccines can be tweaked to better fight any new emerging variants. However, in order for them to be effective, individuals will probably have to receive boosters at regular intervals. Many medical experts have long said that they believe the COVID-19 vaccine will become similar to a seasonal flu vaccine.
US to Send AstraZenca Vaccines Globally
Biden also recently announced that the US government will send approximately 60 million doses of its AstraZeneca vaccine stockpile to other countries prior to July 4. This represents about 10% of the US stockpile. The US has already shared some of its AstraZeneca vaccine with Canada and Mexico. This particular vaccine has not been approved for use in the US yet.