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Why have daily vaccination rates been dropping in the U.S?

This article was published on
August 24, 2021

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It is unclear how factors like vaccine hesitancy and news about vaccine side effects contributed to a decline in daily vaccination rates. We can most likely attribute the drop in number of people getting shots to a combination of things. 

It is unclear how factors like vaccine hesitancy and news about vaccine side effects contributed to a decline in daily vaccination rates. We can most likely attribute the drop in number of people getting shots to a combination of things. 

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What our experts say

From April to July 2021, vaccination rates in the United States were on a decline. They are now increasing again, according to seven-day averages reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts that recent full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration may continue to increase vaccination in the country. This is in line with survey results reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation last June, stating that nearly half of unvaccinated respondents would consider vaccination after full approval. However, local surges of COVID-19 cases in states with a smaller vaccinated population could be a contributor as well. Perhaps most notably, the U.S. vaccination effort is seeing upward trends in states where the proportion of vaccinated Americans is the lowest, and COVID-19 cases are the highest. Despite these upticks, vaccination rates are still less than a quarter of what they were in mid-April of 2021. 

It is unclear how factors like vaccine hesitancy and news about vaccine side effects contributed to a decline in daily vaccination rates. We can most likely attribute the drop in number of people getting shots to a combination of things. 

Although COVID-19 vaccines have largely been shown to be safe and effective, concerns about vaccine safety, misconceptions about their efficacy, and other forms of misinformation may be contributing to the slow down in vaccination in the United States. In a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 32 per cent of adults who responded said they preferred to wait before getting their shots. 

Today, the daily average of Americans getting vaccinated has been steadily rising for the last four weeks, with the daily numbers doubling in states that are experiencing the highest reported cases of COVID-19. 

Experts recommend vaccination for individuals who are eligible for the vaccine, and healthcare providers can provide information about your eligibility.

Context and background

Currently, children and adults 12 years of age and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. As of August 19, 2021, 71.1 percent of Americans (ages 12 and older) have at least a partial vaccination against COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending an additional booster dose for the vaccines authorized in the United States. The boosters are slated to start this fall, in an effort by the Biden administration to stay ahead of the virus and maintain the already established immunity across the country. There is a concern that if more people do not get vaccinated to prevent COVID-19, the virus will keep spreading and infecting people. That outcome could overwhelm hospitals leading to people possibly not being able to get the care they need. Many countries including the U.S. have seen hospitals run out of beds or breathing machines (ventilators) to treat patients. 

The upcoming months are critical. The more people who get infected with COVID-19, the higher the chances are that the virus will continue to change into more dangerous forms (or variants). In contrast, increased vaccination can provide enough protection across the United States for Americans to be able to safely return to some normalcy, like going to theaters and restaurants. 

The logical target now is to increase immunization in the population evenly and equitably, to increase resistance to COVID-19 in the nation as a whole.

Resources

  1. COVID-19: Some U.S. Vaccination Sites Will Close as Demand Drops (The Newyork TImes)
  2. See How Vaccinations Are Going in Your County and State (The Newyork Times)
  3. Fauci Says U.S. Could Return To Normal By Spring 2022 — If Vaccinations Go Up (Forbes)
  4. U.S. reaches 70 percent Covid vaccine milestone for adults about a month behind Biden’s goal (CNBC)
  5. Who Are the Unvaccinated in America? There’s No One Answer.(The Newyork Times)
  6. Reaching ‘Herd Immunity’ is Unlikely in the US, Experts Now Believe (The Newyork Times)
  7. US vaccination rate hits the highest pace in weeks (CNN)
  8. Daily Vaccinations Hit Highest Level In A Month, White House Says—With States Where COVID-19 Is Surging Leading The Way (Forbes)
  9. US COVID-19 vaccination rates drop to under 1 million a day (Center for Infections Disease Research and Policy)
  10. Covid Data Tracker Weekly Review (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
  11. Joint Statement from HHS Public Health and Medical Experts on COVID-19 Booster Shots (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
  12. Vaccine hesitancy: More than a pandemic (Harvard University, Science in The News)
  13. Will Pfizer’s Full FDA Approval Persuade People To Get Vaccinated? Polling Suggests It Will (Forbes)

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