‘Landmark day’ brings immunity optimism
In the battle to achieve levels of immunity that render the COVID-19 pandemic manageable even with a fully open economy, the CDC announced some excellent news this week. Sixty percent of American adults have had at least one vaccine dose. Combine that with the number of unvaccinated people who have natural immunity from a COVID infection, and there is optimism brewing that there won’t be enough hosts to allow the virus to spread freely in many areas.
Vaccination rates have soared in Ohio after the state introduced a lottery with a $1 million weekly payout to a lucky vaccinated winner. Even with the low chance of a given individual winning that prize, vaccinations have gone up 28% since Ohio announced the drawing, showing that offering incentives is a key strategy in promoting immunity.
With vaccinations now available to children between 12-17, more than 4 million kids have gotten their jabs, an encouraging sign as the country works toward immunizing as many people as people. Also encouraging is that 51% of the people vaccinated in the last two weeks are people of color. These populations have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic because of socioeconomic factors such as blue-collar frontline work and living in close quarters.
What is still worrisome is that 10 states, mostly in the Southeast and Mountain West have vaccinated fewer than half of their adults. These places unsurprisingly have COVID cases rates 19% higher than the seven states that have already reached the Biden administration’s goal of 70% adult vaccination by July 4.
“Clearly if you have geographic areas that are under-immunized, the virus is going to find them. It will continue to smolder, will continue to make people sick, will continue to send people to the hospital, and will continue to cause deaths,” Dr. William Schaffner, a member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, told CNN.
To really halt the pandemic in its track across the country, we’ll need more immunity in these places. That means the quest to vaccinate as many people as possible will continue.