When a Covid vaccine became widely available a year ago, it was a time of hope, as demand outstripped capacity and millions of Americans jostled for the earliest date. But as of Monday, about a quarter of eligible adults had not been fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
where last summerThe US vaccination campaign has failed, undermined by skepticism about vaccines, partisan politics, and disinformation. And warnings of another potential increase, fueled by the new Omicron variant, BA.2, may have little effect on vaccination rates.
“It’s very slow gains going forward,” said Rupali Lemay, an associate scientist who studies vaccine messages at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Boost rates even further. Omicron’s appearance in late fall prompted federal regulators to expand booster eligibility, and some Americans scrambled to get the extra dose.
But the booster campaign has stalled, with nearly half of eligible adults in the United States not being boosted until Monday, according to the CDC, and people may be less motivated now than before, as masks are removed, restrictions lifted, and a general shift toward treatment Corona virus as part of everyday life.
“People who communicate on behalf of public health agencies should be more strategic,” said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, professor of global health and infectious diseases at Stanford University.
She said there has been a lot of mixed messaging since vaccines became widely available. She said public health liaisons need to be more clear: Vaccinations can save lives and can help prevent severe disease even in young people.
Public health agencies are also grappling with funding uncertainty, with Congress After approval of billions of dollars in new emergency aid for Covid. Previous aid packages passed without restriction, but now most Republicans in Congress say they won’t approve another aid package unless the White House finds a way to pay for it.
That could hamper efforts to help the Biden administration pay for vaccines, buy Covid treatments, and reimburse doctors who care for uninsured Covid patients, among other services.
“The challenges with cutting funding is that we need to make sure we have the tools to meet any future surge,” said Joseph Allen, professor and director of the Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Experts said there must be a renewed urgent need to vaccinate people now as the US prepares for another potential surge, spurred by BA.2, which is sweeping some European countries. Scientists say it does not appear to cause more serious illness than Omicron subvariant BA.1.
In the United States, BA.2 made up 23 percent of new cases from March 6 to March 12, according to the Center for Disease Control.
“The booster vaccine is the way back to the country no matter what happens next with BA.2,” said Dr. Allen.
Sheryl Jay Stolberg Contribute to the preparation of reports.
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