(Citizen Free Press) — About one in 10 Americans – nearly 32.9 million people – have received at least a first dose of the two-component covid-19 vaccines so far, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. (CDC). Approximately 9.8 million are already fully vaccinated.
And while US and state leaders are optimistic that vaccinations will rise further in the coming months, several challenges remain, including supply shortages and equitable access, coming as public health experts say that US variants continue to spread throughout the country.
“We are in a situation, and we will be for a while, of supply shortages,” said Andy Slavitt, the White House’s senior adviser for covid-19 response.
In Delaware, officials announced Tuesday that the state no longer expected to open another phase of vaccine eligibility on March 1 as planned due to an “extremely limited supply” of vaccines. In Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear said the state would get more doses from the federal government, adding that “it’s not enough, but it’s great.”
“I wish we had 200,000 doses a week at this point. We could assign them all,” Beshear said.
But there’s good news on the vaccine front: The Biden administration said Tuesday that it was increasing the weekly supply of vaccines to states, tribes and territories to 11 million doses. He added that he continued to work with manufacturers to increase the supply of vaccines.
Several thousand retail pharmacies will also begin administering vaccines this week as part of a federal program. And both CVS and Walgreens said vaccines will begin Friday at participating stores.
And more leaders say they are working to address disparities in who gets vaccinated. Next week, the administration will begin shipping part of the covid-19 supply directly to community health centers as part of an effort to reach underserved areas, the White House covid-19 response coordinator said Tuesday, Jeff Zients.
North Carolina officials said they are working to assign more vaccine doses to those communities and that they will have more vaccine events targeting underserved, African American and Latinx populations. According to the state’s vaccine control panel, since vaccines began, 79% of those who have received their first dose in the state are white, nearly 14% are black, 2% are Asian, and 2% are Hispanic.
82% of educators are not vaccinated, according to survey
Amid national talks about the steps needed to reopen schools safely, the nation’s largest teachers union released a survey showing that roughly 82% of the educators it represents have yet to receive a vaccine.
The survey, conducted by the National Education Association, found that “the number of educators returning to work in physical buildings far exceeds the number of educators who are being vaccinated.”
That comes as teachers have protested and expressed concern about returning to the classroom after losing their colleagues to the virus. But according to an analysis by Citizen Free Press, teachers are not currently prioritized for vaccination in 24 states.
After surveying more than 3,300 of its members, the association found that about 70% said they would feel safer returning to face-to-face classes if they were vaccinated. About 64% said they currently work in school buildings all or part of the time.
The survey also found that white educators were twice as likely (20%) as black educators (9%) to be vaccinated.
Americans’ perception of covid-19 risk is lowest in months
America is not out of the woods yet. The country has registered more than 27 million cases of covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, much more than any other country in the world, and now the variants are complicating the picture and worrying experts.
CDC data updated on Tuesday shows that more than 940 cases of covid-19 variants first detected in the UK, South Africa and Brazil have been reported in the US and the vast majority of them are the highly variant. contagious known as B.1.1 .7, originally detected in the UK.
That number is quite concerning. But the CDC says it likely doesn’t represent the total number of variant cases, only those that have been found by testing positive samples for covid-19.
These variants are why experts warn that now is not the time for the nation to let its guard down.
“We are … seeing what happens in other countries when these variants take over,” emergency doctor Leana Wen told Citizen Free Press earlier this week. “There is (an) explosive increase, even when countries are basically closed.”
Despite the dangers, Americans’ perception of risk is the lowest in months, according to a new survey from Axios-Ipsos. Approximately 66% of the people surveyed reported that they thought there was a moderate or great risk when returning to pre-pandemic life. The last time that number was this low was in October.
In reality, with variants now around, even everyday activities like shopping could be more dangerous, Wen warned previously.
This could be why we may need vaccinations annually
Covid-19 variants could also be the reason why vaccines against the virus may become an annual necessity for years to come.
“Unfortunately, as [el virus] it spreads, it can also mutate, ”Johnson & Johnson Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky told CNBC on Tuesday.
‘Every time it mutates, it’s almost like another click of the dial, so to speak, where we can see another variant, another mutation that may have an impact on its ability to defend itself against antibodies or to have a different kind of response not just to treatments but also a vaccine.
Johnson & Johnson applied to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an emergency use authorization for its vaccine last week, and a green light for the company could further increase the vaccine doses available in the US.
Unlike the two vaccines already licensed in the US that require two injections, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose.
Its covid-19 vaccine was shown to be 66% effective in preventing moderate and severe disease in a global phase 3 trial, according to the company.
The vaccine has an overall efficacy of 85% in preventing hospitalization and 100% in preventing death in all regions where it was tested.
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