About 1.4 million new doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered since Thursday, boosting the seven-day average of doses administered back to just over 1 million doses per day. It had fallen to under a million a day on average earlier in the week.
These figures, however, are down from an early April average high of 3.3 million per day.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday that the best way for the country to avoid another Covid-19 surge — and another shut down — is to get vaccinated.
“It ain’t over ’til it’s over — and it is not over yet,” Fauci said at an event hosted by US Health and Human Services, urging people to be wary of believing the pandemic is over.
A recent CNN analysis of CDC data found that the pace of newly-vaccinated adults will fall short of the Biden administration’s goal of 70% of adults with one dose by July 4. The current trend would hit the 70% target in mid-to-late July.
At present, 12 states have already met Biden’s one-dose goal: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
The push to increase vaccinations is highlighted by further evidence that the mass vaccination programs this year have contributed greatly in the fight against Covid-19.
In the last month, the number of deaths from Covid-19 have noticeably dropped, and confirmed cases continue to plummet when compared to earlier highs, according to CDC data.
A daily average of 49,000 new cases reported to the CDC at the start of May has fallen to less than 14,000 Thursday. During the holiday surge of infections last winter, the daily average of new cases eclipsed 250,000.
Nearly 170 million people — just over half of the total US population — have received at least one dose of vaccine, and about 137.5 million people — 41.4% of the population — are fully vaccinated.
Incentives for vaccines continue
A multitude of states and companies in the last month have hoped to create demand for vaccines by awarding prizes to those inoculated.
The latest is Hawaii, which is offering a variety of donated prizes, including vacation packages and airline miles, to help reach vaccination milestones as soon as possible.
“The last 15 or 16 months have been a very difficult time for our tourism sector,” said Hawaiian Airlines president and CEO Peter Ingram.
Hawaii, which has maintained some of the toughest travel restrictions throughout the pandemic, is beginning to loosen rules on air travel, dropping its testing and quarantine requirements for people flying between the Hawaiian islands starting June 15. All pandemic restrictions will be lifted once the full vaccination rate reaches 70%, the state announced.
“We need to push hard now so we can get to the point where Safe Travels is no longer needed to keep the people of Hawaii safe,” Gov. David Ige said Friday.
In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear announced the state’s new Covid-19 vaccine incentive which will give vaccinated adults “a shot at a million dollars,” he said.
“In the coming weeks, three vaccinated Kentuckians, 18 years or older, will become millionaires,” Beshear said Friday, adding that 15 Kentuckians ages 12 to 17 will win full scholarships to a state public college, university, or technical or trade school.
More than 2 million Kentuckians have already been vaccinated, but Beshear anticipates “a significant increase” following Friday’s announcement, he said.
In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis presented Sally Sliger with a super-sized check for $1 million as the winner of the first drawing in the state’s ‘Comeback Cash’ initiative.
Sliger said she is a lifelong resident of Colorado and currently lives in the town of Mead with her husband and two children.
“The odds of me and my family being given one million dollars overnight seemed impossibly small,” Sliger said, encouraging everyone to get vaccinated for the freedom provided. “It was surreal, of course.”
Protecting children remains a focus
As vaccines continue to go into the arms of eligible teens and adults, health officials remain concerned over the safety of children. Only those ages 12 years and older are currently eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in the US.
Research showing an increase in Covid-19 hospitalization rates among adolescents in the US is a reminder that even children can suffer from the virus, Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said Friday.
“It tells you children can still suffer and be hospitalized by this virus,” Offit told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “We had this notion, initially, that this was just a disease of older people. It’s not true. This virus can also hurt children.”
As a result, bans on school mask mandates in states like Texas are irresponsible and could result in more children getting sick, Offit said.
“To have those kinds of rules which only promote the spread of this virus — which only promote more children getting sick — is just nonsensical,” he said.
The CDC says vaccinated people may stop wearing masks in most cases, but unvaccinated people should continue to use them.
The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), on which Offit sits, is set to meet on June 10 to discuss what the FDA should consider in either authorizing or approving the use of coronavirus vaccines in children under 12.
Both Moderna and Pfizer are running trials for their vaccines in children ages 11 and under.