COVID-19 Update: Vaccinations
On May 4, 2021, President Biden announced a new goal to at least partly vaccinate 70 percent of adults by Independence Day, recognizing the apparent vaccine hesitancy in many communities. Most of those who are eligible have already received at least one dose of a vaccine. As of May 5, 2021, the CDC reports that over 148 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 107 million (32.3% of total U.S. population) are fully vaccinated.
How do we further increase vaccination rates? One way is to increase the sheer number of those who are eligible to receive a vaccine. In this effort, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was recently approved for individuals 16 years and older and it is soon expected to be approved for children 12 to 15 years of age as well. Before this, only the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approved for use in persons 16 years and older. Pfizer is currently testing their vaccine in children ages 2-11 and those results should be ready around this September.
This is welcoming news as the number and proportion of children testing positive for COVID-19 continue to increase. Also, Fairfax County Public Schools, the largest school district in Virginia and in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, announced they are planning to open five days in person for students this Fall semester. Having children vaccinated prior to returning to school in person will be reassuring for parents as well as teachers and staff. This may allow for some students to return to school without masks considering the new guidelines released by the CDC for those who are fully vaccinated which states that fully vaccinated individuals may gather indoors without social distancing or wearing a mask. The CDC announced yesterday that the pandemic could be under control by this summer as long as we continue to get vaccinated and maintain the recommended precautions.
As a nation, we are in an immensely different place compared to a year ago. While the development of vaccines and adjustment to this new normalcy has brought light to some, many continue to struggle through challenges with the loss of loved ones, job and food insecurity, and various side effects of the pandemic. I hope that you continue to stay safe, take care of yourself, and support those around you.