Brief # 115 – Technology Policy

Who Has Not Been Vaccinated?

By S. Bhianji

July 5, 2021

Policy Summary

As of June 15, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that nearly 182 million Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Of these 156 million have been fully vaccinated by the two-dose series made by Moderna & Pfizer or the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

On May 4th, President Biden had set a goal of vaccinating 70% of American adults by July 4th, 2021 and it appears this goal will be accomplished as nearly 67% of adults have already received at least one shot.

Healthcare providers are currently administering just above a million shots a day, but that is a decrease from a peak of 3.8 million two months ago. The key reason for the drop is that there were reports of blood clots in a small number of individuals; this led all states to pause the vaccination program. However, within a week, it was deemed that these blood clots were rare and only affected a handful of people; the vaccination was resumed but this time the population was not rushing to get vaccinated.

Experts indicate that in order to acquire resistance to the virus or reach herd immunity, at least 90% of the population will need to be vaccinated. But there are still millions of adult Americans who refuse to be vaccinated and children still are not eligible for the vaccine.

Policy Analysis

So far no vaccine has been approved for use in children but at the same time millions of Americans refuse to be vaccinated- so whether we will ever achieve herd immunity remains questionable. Further, the pace of vaccination varies across the nation.

Overall, far fewer people living in the Southern and Western states have been vaccinated compared to other states. Some of the reasons cited for low vaccination rates in Southern States include limited access to vaccine sites, ongoing limitations in supplies, very confusing pre-booking procedures to get vaccinated, and hesitancy in getting vaccinated for fear of developing an adverse reaction.

Analysis of vaccine records by the New York Times reveals that overall vaccination rates are much lower in counties/states where the majority of citizens voted to re-elect former President Trump in 2020 or are Republicans.

Sadly even though the Biden administration had sought to ensure that there was even distribution of the vaccine to all states, this has not been the case. More than 6 months since the vaccine roll-out, the vaccination rates are much lower in socially disadvantaged communities than in the rest of America. The majority of the socially disadvantaged communities who remain unvaccinated are in the South, while the exact opposite is seen in the Northeast and Midwest.

Part of the problem with uneven vaccination rates is because the initial vaccine eligibility criteria only included healthcare workers, older Americans, and those with multiple comorbidities. To increase vaccination rates, universal eligibility was recently introduced which includes every citizen above the age of 12.

The CDC has expanded the use of the Pfizer vaccine for use in children over the age of 12; the aim is to get most teenagers vaccinated during the summer so that they are ready to start school in Sept 2021.

One piece of good news is that the death rates from Covid-19 have dropped significantly but the bad news is that nearly all Covid deaths are now seen in unvaccinated Americans.

Engagement Resources

US Coronavirus vaccine tracker.

See How Vaccinations Are Going in Your County and State.

Reporting COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States.

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