A top health official on Wednesday expressed enthusiasm about how many Americans are getting COVID-19 vaccinations every day, even as she and other federal officials warned people not to stop mitigation measures amid the pandemic.
“I’m enthusiastic about the pace of vaccination that is happening, about the early data that we’re seeing, the changes in infection rates, the changes in emergency department rates,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said during a virtual briefing.
But Walensky also added that she remains guarded and is worried about footage showing people enjoying Spring Break at various beaches and about people “who are not continuing to implement prevention strategies while we get fully scaled up.”
“We’re at 13 percent. We need to be much higher than that to feel like we have adequate protection around this country,” she said, referring to the percentage of the population who have been fully vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.
Some 46 million Americans have been fully vaccinated as of March 24, including nearly 44 percent of men and women 65 years old or older.
Fully vaccinated means that people have received both doses of the vaccines from Moderna or Pfizer, or the single Johnson & Johnson shot.
Another 39 million have received one injection but are waiting for the second, according to federal data.
“No country has vaccinated more people than the U.S. That’s the result of our three-pronged strategy to rapidly [increase] vaccine supply, to add thousands of vaccinators and thousands more places for people to get vaccinated,” Andy Slavvit, acting administrator for the U.S. COVID-19 response, told reporters.
The pace of vaccination has quickened, from under 1 million per day in early January to over 2 million daily on average in recent weeks.
“I’ve been so impressed by the pace of vaccination—by the way so many Americans have embraced vaccination and have chipped in with their families and communities to help others get vaccinated. We are now vaccinating between 16 and 20 million people a week. And this means that we are closer to resuming activities we love to do with those we care about the most,” Walensky said.
Federal officials have said herd immunity, or protection against the virus achieved through a combination of vaccinations and recoveries, won’t be achieved until 70 percent or more of Americans have gotten a vaccine.
Officials highlighted several studies published by the New England Journal of Medicine, including one that found just 4 of 8,121 fully vaccinated employees contracting the CCP virus, versus 112 partially vaccinated workers and 234 non-vaccinated ones.
They also provided little new insight into the debacle surrounding the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
In a harsh note on Tuesday, American health officials said AstraZeneca may have included “outdated information” in presenting interim results from a phase 3 trial, recommending the company quickly release more accurate, up-to-date data.
The company is working with the Data and Safety Monitoring Board, which was monitoring the study, to come out with “a modified statement,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top adviser to President Joe Biden, told the briefing.
Fauci called what happened “an apparent miscommunication.” AstraZeneca’s shot is going to “turn out to be a good vaccine,” he added, citing data on its efficacy and safety.
AstraZeneca officials had said Monday they planned to apply for emergency use authorization from drug regulators in the coming weeks. While the United States hasn’t authorized its shot, a number of other countries did. Many suspended its use after reports of post-vaccination blood clots and deaths.