US Covid vaccination rate slows

By Lucia Leal

Washington, Apr 25 (EFE).- The rate of Covid-19 vaccination in the United States has slowed, with vaccine supply exceeding demand in some areas and authorities warning of the “serious risk” if more people cannot be convinced to get the jab.

With more than half the adults in the country inoculated with at least one dose of one of the available vaccines, the weekly average of vaccinations fell on Friday to 2.86 million per day, compared with 3.38 million per day the previous week, according to an analysis of government figures performed by The New York Times.

The number of vaccinations administered per day remains noteworthy, but the decline has been enough to motivate certain mass vaccination centers in Florida, Texas and Ohio to announce they soon will be closed due to lack of demand.

The trend concerns US health authorities, given that 40 percent of the public still have doubts about accepting the vaccine or outright refusing to get a shot (22 percent), according to a survey published Sunday by CBS.

That percentage has fallen since the start of the vaccination campaign in December, but authorities fear that it will still be difficult to reach so-called “herd immunity,” the key level for being able to return to some kind of “normal” and avoid new mutations of the coronavirus.

The “serious risk” exists that the country will not be able to achieve that goal, the director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, said Sunday in an interview with NBC News.

Herd immunity, he said, means that “70 to 85 percent” of the population has been vaccinated, compared to the 28 percent of the US population that currently has been fully immunized, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Collins said that it is the areas where health authorities are far behind in administering vaccines that concern the NIH most since they could become the next foci of disease outbreaks.

The Kaiser Foundation, which specializes in health, last week estimated that if there is no change in the “enthusiasm” among the public for getting vaccinated, by the beginning of May at least one dose of the vaccine will have been administered to every adult who wants it.

The vaccine has been available to any adult who wants it for the past week, but demand is falling off in some areas, especially in the South and the mountainous Western states.

These are precisely the areas where vaccine skepticism is highest, according to a survey conducted in March by the US Census Bureau, which concluded that the states where the fewest people – relatively speaking – want to get vaccinated are Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Idaho, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Alabama.

According to the same survey, the racial gaps in skepticism about the vaccines are not as broad as they were some months ago, when many more African Americans were resisting getting the shot. Now, 16 percent of the vaccine doubters are white, 18.5 percent are black, 13.3 percent are Latino and 24 percent are biracial.

The differences now are mainly in terms of age and educational level with young people being more doubtful – 40 percent of those under age 39 – and just 8 percent of university graduates expressing such reticence.

It’s still not clear if the 15-day pause earlier this month in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to the appearance of blood clots among a tiny cohort of recipients could have contributed to strengthening fears among vaccine doubters, which include 54 percent of Republican voters, according to the survey.

Numerous states and cities around the country began administering the J&J vaccine again on Saturday after the Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to resuming that program.

Although the J&J vaccine is a single-dose shot, the double-dose vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna are running into trouble because some Americans are not returning to get their second dose, which would “fully” immunize them.

More than five million people – almost 8 percent of those who received the first shot – have not kept their appointments to get their second doses, according to CDC figures published Sunday by The New York Times.

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