According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens -- who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 -- are leading the way in vaccinations. The CDC says that about 75 percent of Americans 65 and older (30,029,190 total) have received at least one shot, and more than half (41,105,881 total) have completed their vaccination regimen.
During a press briefing at the White House on Monday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky added another positive finding -- emergency department visits and hospitalizations associated with seniors are also declining. Both trends are something Walensky called “good news with regard to the power of vaccination.”
By contrast, the percentage of the total population who have had one dose of a vaccine is 32.4 percent; the percentage of people who have been completely vaccinated is 18.8 percent.
Vaccinations among youth could be a huge plus
Walensky cited data showing that many of the outbreaks in youth and young adults are tied to sports and extracurricular activities. She feels strongly that these activities should be limited and that the risk of outbreak clusters could be prevented with cadenced testing strategies.
When asked whether getting young people vaccinated at the same levels as seniors could make an impact on new cases, the CDC director gave a resounding “yes.”
“I imagine it would be having a massive impact,” Walensky said. “I think what we’ve seen demographically is when we vaccinate large age strata — large age demographics — that we see less cases in those — in those demographics. So that is just more and more — makes it more and more important that when the vaccine is available, regardless of your age, you roll up your sleeve.”
Don’t be foolish -- stay the course
Walensky says she’s as ready as everyone else to be done with COVID-19, but the pandemic is far from over.
“I understand that people are tired and that they are ready for this pandemic to be over, as am I. Please continue to hang in there and to continue to do the things that we know prevent the spread of the virus,” she said.
“If we all continue to wear a well-fitting mask, physically distance, and get vaccinated, America can and will get out of this pandemic. We can meet this moment if we keep doing our part. Everyone working together, getting vaccinated as soon as possible, is how we can turn the corner.”
To drive home her point, she told the story of a COVID-19 outbreak that recently happened in a rural area of Illinois where roughly 100 people held an opening event indoors. While tables were spaced 6-feet apart and there were signs everywhere encouraging physical distancing and masking, people who attended the event reported that mask use was inconsistent and that keeping 6-feet apart was not enforced or observed.
The result of the attendees’ indifference produced 46 positive COVID-19 cases that resulted in eight households with infections, a school closure affecting 650 children, and the hospitalization of a long-term care facility resident.
“As we work to get more people vaccinated and as community businesses begin to reopen, these findings underscore the vast impact of a single event affecting communities, schools, families, and fragile elderly,” Walensky stated.
“And it emphasizes the impressive transmissibility of this virus and the continued need for layer prevention strategies, including reducing the number of people indoors, improving building ventilation, and utilizing outdoor spaces as the weather allows.”