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Millions of Americans are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 every day. Experts agree it’s the nation’s best strategy to overcome the pandemic. And it’s working.
Infections, hospitalizations and deaths are plummeting among adults age 65 and older who were prioritized for vaccination beginning in late December. A recent report shows that new COVID-19 cases among nursing home residents have dropped by 96% since the end of last year.
However, younger, unvaccinated people are bending downward more encouraging trends into upward more concerning ones, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday during a White House COVID-19 briefing.
In Michigan, for example, COVID-19 hospitalizations for people in their 30s has jumped 633% since March; for people in their 40s, admissions rose by 800%. A medical center in New Jersey saw an 18% decrease in admissions of patients 70 or older and an increase of 10% among 40 to 59 year olds from January to March.
Walensky noted that older adults who have not been vaccinated also continue to be hospitalized. “We’re still hearing stories of, ‘You know, I got my vaccine yesterday, and today I have COVID.’”
But the reality is that there isn’t going to be a precise number of new infections, hospitalizations or deaths that marks the finish line, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s medical adviser, said during the briefing.
“I think what we’re going to see is that, as we get more and more people vaccinated, you’re going to see a concomitant diminution in the number of cases that we see every day and, with that, you know, the cascading domino effect of less hospitalizations and less deaths,” Fauci said.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a precise number. I don’t know what that number is. I can’t say it’s going to be ‘this’ percent,” he added. “But we’ll know it when we see it. It’ll be obvious as the numbers come down rather dramatically.”
Biden announced Tuesday that all adults in the U.S. will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines beginning April 19, though some states have already opened up eligibility.
The finish line is “on the way,” Fauci said. “Hang in there.”
Still, experts say children must join the mix in order for the country to head into pre-pandemic normalcy.
“The one group that I think we really need to add into the equation to achieve community protection … are children. Clinical trials for children are well underway. Children make up about 23% of the population,” Dr. Emmanuel Walter Jr., chief medical officer at the Duke University Human Vaccine Institute, said during a Wednesday webinar. “Reaching our goal to achieve herd immunity, I think we need to consider vaccinating children.”