A drop in daily Covid-19 vaccination rates has left US public health authorities with a new problem – how to effectively reduce surgery.
In the campaign to immunize all American adults against coronavirus, most of the difficulties so far have involved overwhelming demand and limited supply. Now, with less than a third of Americans fully vaccinated, local public health authorities described a sense of whiplash as they turn from mass vaccination clinics to outreach campaigns, all within a few weeks.
“We knew that when people became qualified, they were vaccine-ready people, or eager, [would] came out right away, ”said Mary Jo Brogna, director of nursing at Harbor Health Services, which operates a community clinic in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
“Reaching the final percentage of herd immunity,” is believed to be at least 70% of all adults, “will be dependent on outreach and treating any vaccine hesitation,” Brogna said.
For most of 2021, the story of the vaccine campaign has been overwhelming demand. Emergency authorities took over stadiums, big-box stores and community centers staffed with dozens of nurses and volunteers to inoculate thousands of people a day.
But in the last two weeks, daily vaccination rates in the United States have peaked and have fallen from a maximum of 3.2 million. Daily vaccine administrations per. Day to 2.5 m. Now health authorities nationally experience what red states like Mississippi and Wyoming began to see early signs of – a major downturn.
“Across the country, we started with mass clinics, and these mass clinics worked very well for the elderly,” said Gary Edwards, CEO of the Salt Lake County Utah Health Department.
He said, however, “we have reached a point and it has been very interesting how quickly it happened that the mass clinic model does not reach the segment of the population we are trying to reach,” Edwards said.
The phenomenon is repeated all over the country. Local authorities in Los Angeles, California; Colorado; Florida; Nevada and Texas are ready to close mass vaccination sites by the end of May.
Georgia has already decided to close all its mass vaccination sites by the end of May, citing a lack of demand. The state is far behind the nation in terms of vaccine administration, with 34% of the population receiving at least one dose compared to 43% nationally.
In Galveston, the director of public health apparently asked for a “break” in vaccine transport as he worried the district would not be able to use all the dispatchers before they expire.
The reasons for the slowdown are nuanced, most experts said.
Vaccination doubts, especially among conservatives and racial minorities, play a role. But there are also difficulties with planning and transportation, as working-age adults have fallen far behind older adults in terms of vaccination rates.
One of the most notable trends in the immunization campaign is the relatively low vaccination rates among adults aged 18-49 years. In this age group, 9-12% of the population is fully vaccinated compared to more than 27% among people aged 50-64 years.
“I had a patient the other day where I was trying to go through the process of online planning with him and we just kept hitting a wall,” said Dr. Ann Chahroudy, a pediatric specialist in infectious diseases and faculty at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. .
Crucially, he can also be one of the most important groups to vaccinate. In the summer of 2020, research in the journal Science found that adults aged 20-49 in the working group were most likely to transmit the disease to more than one person.
“Thus, working adults who need to support themselves and their families have promoted the resurgent epidemics in the United States,” concluded an international group of researchers. The same age group seems to be running cases now in states like California and Utah.
Also notable is the lack of admission in conservative regions. Data from the CDC show that states in the south and west have the highest levels of vaccine hesitation, and uptake is particularly low in these states. Several polls have now found that Republicans are more likely to say they will not be vaccinated.
“Reaching these young Republicans and conservative groups becomes a priority because it’s the difference between normality or something less,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine researcher and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College in Houston, Texas. Lack of vaccine uptake, he said, “will not be distributed homogeneously. This means that Covid-19 will become a red state disease ”.
The politicization of the pandemic and the dismissal of science on the right, especially by Donald Trump, has led many influential conservative experts to question Covid-19 public health measures – from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson to influential podcaster Joe Rogan.
“We have to tear the anti-science out of the Republican Party,” Hotez said. “We need to help our conservative brothers and sisters.”
High levels of vaccine hesitation are also blamed for supply and demand imbalances, such as in Illinois. But as Cape Cod shows, the whole story is much more nuanced.
Barnstable County, known regionally as Cape, has the lowest frequency of vaccine in the country. Only 6% of residents are thought to be somewhat hesitant, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The county has administered more shots than anyone else in Massachusetts, and 59% of the population here has received at least one vaccine dose compared to 43% nationally. Without a doubt, it is a success story. Nevertheless, demand has also stalled at Brogna’s clinics, and the public health authorities are still trying to find out why.
“We are examining our own patients,” said Brogna. “We reach out and look at patients who have not been vaccinated, to say: ‘We have contacted you three times and noticed that you have not planned a Covid vaccine. Can we talk about it? ‘”She said.