“Some areas are doing very well with greater than 65% coverage for those over the age of 65… but many areas have far less coverage, less than 47%,” she said. “Because this virus is an opportunist, we anticipate that the areas of lightest vaccine coverage now might be where the virus strikes next.”
“I think it’s really important to understand that vaccines work best at a population level, not at the individual level,” infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist Dr. Celine Gounder told CNN on Saturday. “If you’re in a community that is swimming with virus, 95% reduction is good, but you’re still at risk.”
“Really the best way to reduce the risk for all of us is for as many people to get vaccinated as possible,” Gounder added.
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy also highlighted the importance of widespread vaccinations in Friday’s briefing.
“This is one of those moments where we have to decide who we are as a country,” he said. “Are we 300 million people who happen to live in the same place? Or are we fellow Americans who recognize we’re stronger when we care for and protect one another?”
“If we do this together,” Murthy added, “We will turn this pandemic around.”
Reports warn of vaccine ‘tipping point’
“Once this happens, efforts to encourage vaccination will become much harder, presenting a challenge to reaching the levels of herd immunity that are expected to be needed,” the report said.
Some experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have estimated somewhere between 70% to 85% of Americans need to have immunity to the virus — either through vaccination or previous infection — to control its spread.
“Facebook runs a survey every day, and we look at that data on a daily basis and that’s shown that vaccine confidence in the US has been slowly but steadily going down since February,” IHME Director Dr. Chris Murray told CNN on Friday.
“There’s a lot of people out there, and it’s a growing fraction of people, who are not sure they want to get the vaccine, and that’s really important that we overcome that,” he added.
Covid-19 vaccinations declined last week
Some officials worry the recent recommended pause on the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine could have also further fueled hesitancy.
“We have concluded that the known and potential benefits of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older,” acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement.
The administration of the J&J vaccine can resume “immediately,” Walensky said Friday.
The pause contributed to a decline in the total number of Americans who got vaccinated last week, the CDC’s Dr. Amanda Cohn said Saturday.
“Last week was the first week that we saw a decline in vaccination, in terms of the total number of people who got vaccinated over the course of the week, and there is clearly the contributory factor of the pause in the J&J vaccine,” Cohn said.
“The vaccine is the weapon that will win the war against COVID and allow everyone to resume normalcy, and we have three proven vaccines at our disposal,” the governor said in a statement. “The sooner we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can put the long COVID nightmare behind us once and for all.”
CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this report.