“It’s almost a race between getting people vaccinated and this increase that seems to be increasing,” Fauci said, noting that Europe is experiencing an increase that experts worry about for the United States.
The United States is rapidly vaccinating humans, with just over 33% of the population ̵
But the pace of getting vaccines into American arms will have to continue to rise now that the virus variant, first identified in the UK, known to be more transmissible and thought to be more deadly, is the most common strain in the US , Walensky said.
To combat the variant, Fauci urged Americans to get vaccinated and stick to preventative measures.
“Stay there a little longer,” he said. “It is not the time, as I have said so many times, to declare victory premature.”
Cases crooked younger
Recent infections are skewed toward younger people, a factor that Fauci said can be attributed in part to as many older people being vaccinated.
Fauci noted that more than 75% of the population age 65 and older have received at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine in the United States.
He said a number of factors are at play, including clusters of cases in day care and school sports teams – where people are in close contact and sometimes do not wear masks – and the B.1.1.7 variant.
“I think that’s what explains these increases in cases in young individuals,” he said.
As cases turn against younger Americans, many schools are expanding access to full personal learning. About three-quarters of U.S. public schools are open to full-time personal or hybrid learning.
Of the 4th graders in the country, 39% go to full-time school and 29% of 8th graders, according to data released Wednesday by the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
The students returning to school are not yet eligible for vaccines, though studies will hopefully show the effectiveness of vaccinations in children as low as six months in the coming months, Fauci said.
Until then, students under 16 must continue to wear masks, avoid close contact and avoid indoor settings, Fauci said.
Vaccine risks and benefits
As the United States struggles to vaccinate humans, experts and officials are struggling with side effects thought to be linked to some shots.
Operations were halted at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado on Wednesday after health officials reported that 11 people who received their vaccinations became ill.
These patients experienced symptoms such as nausea and dizziness and were transported to a local hospital for observation of abundance of caution, according to a press release from the Colorado State Joint Information Center.
While the cases may sound worrying, officials said they have no reason to believe that people vaccinated at the center should be concerned.
“The state has no reason to believe that people who were vaccinated today in Dick’s Sporting Goods Park should be concerned,” state officials said.
“From what we know, today’s side effects were in line with what can be expected,” Scott Bookman, COVID-19 Incident Commander, said in the press release. “Getting a vaccine is far safer than getting seriously ill with COVID-19.”
CNN’s Amanda Sealy, Ben Tinker, Lauren Mascarenhas, Betsy Klein, Elizabeth Stuart, Joe Sutton, Richard Greene and Schams Elwazer contributed to this report.