As of October 14, just over 7 percent of adults and 2 percent of children in the United States have received the latest coronavirus vaccines, according to a survey presented to scientific advisers of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even among those most vulnerable to severe illness, vaccine uptake remains weak. Only one in five people aged 75 or older has been vaccinated, along with approximately 15 percent of those between the ages of 65 and 74, as indicated by the survey of nearly 15,000 participants.
Disturbingly, more than 1,200 individuals are still succumbing to Covid each week, according to CDC data. Dr. David Kimberlin, a pediatrician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham representing the American Academy of Pediatrics, lamented this situation, saying, “It’s like an entire neighborhood being wiped out every single week.”
Despite the severe consequences of the virus, hospitalizations in 2022 have been less than the same period in 2021, which in turn was lower than the situation in 2020. Hospitalizations for Covid are disproportionately high among adults aged 75 and older, with rates two to three times higher than those aged 65 to 74. Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Black Americans have the highest hospitalization rates.
Shockingly, less than 1 percent of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, and only 7.6 percent of Black Americans, had received the vaccine by October 14.
Dr. Camille Kotton, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an adviser to the CDC, expressed her disappointment with the low vaccination rates, describing it as a “major missed opportunity to improve our overall level of health.”
Despite vaccines being available at no cost to most people through private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, access issues and charges at some pharmacies have caused obstacles. Nevertheless, government programs continue to provide vaccines for free to underinsured or uninsured individuals.
While over 380,000 doses have been administered to uninsured individuals at more than 24,000 pharmacies, demand has sometimes exceeded supply, resulting in canceled appointments.
Dr. Kotton is cautiously optimistic that vaccination rates will rise, as her clinic and others have only recently received vaccine doses.
According to the Health and Human Services Department, 12 million Americans had been vaccinated by October 14. This number increased to 14.8 million the following week.
However, vaccine hesitancy remains a significant challenge. About 36 percent of adults aged 75 and older in the survey stated they would definitely get the shot, while 26 percent said they would probably or were undecided. Around 38 percent of adults and parents in the survey expressed reluctance to receive the vaccine.
It is important to remember that while some experts argue that previous infections and vaccinations may offer sufficient protection for most young people against severe illness and death from Covid, the virus can still inflict long-term damage on the heart and other organs, even in relatively young and healthy individuals.