About 1 in 10 Americans have gotten at least their first Covid-19 shot. But supply challenges remain

Why the US is behind on tracking Covid-19 variants
Originally Published: 10 FEB 21 02:43 ET
Updated: 10 FEB 21 14:04 ET

(CNN) — About one in 10 Americans — almost 33 million people — have received at least one dose of the two-part Covid-19 vaccines, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show, and about 9.8 million people have been fully vaccinated.

And while US and state leaders are optimistic vaccinations will ramp up in coming months, challenges remain, including supply shortages and equal access. Public health experts say the US is in a race against time as Covid-19 variants spread across the country.

“We’re in a situation, and we will be for a little while, of undersupply,” said Andy Slavitt, senior White House adviser for Covid-19 response.

Meanwhile, a Gallup poll released Wednesday reveals 71 percent of Americans are willing to get Covid-19 vaccines, up from 65% in late December and the highest number on record since July.

In Delaware, officials announced Tuesday that the state was no longer expecting to open another phase of vaccine eligibility on March 1 as planned — due to an “extremely limited supply.”

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the state will receive more doses from the federal government and added, “it’s not enough, but it’s great.”

“I wish we had 200,000 doses a week right now. We could allocate all of them,” Beshear said.

But there is good news: The Biden administration said Tuesday it was boosting weekly vaccine supply going to states, tribes and territories to 11 million doses, and it is continuing to work with manufacturers to increase supply.

More leaders say they’re working on disparities in who’s getting a vaccine. Next week, the administration will begin sending some of the supply directly to community health centers to reach underserved areas, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said.

Zients spoke Wednesday at a virtual news conference with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to announce two mass vaccination centers are to open in Queens and Brooklyn. The White House team is “quickly moving to get more vaccinators on the ground” and is working with New York state to identify additional locations.

“We’re meeting communities where they are in places they know and trust,” said Zients. “We look forward to continuing to build on these partnerships with states and localities to scale innovative models that meet the needs of the communities we serve.”

In Texas, three new major community vaccination centers will open in Dallas, Arlington and Houston, Zients announced.

And Arizona is getting a third state-sponsored vaccination site slated to serve 6,000 people per day, Gov. Doug Ducey announced on Wednesday.

“The demand for vaccine doses is high, and Arizonans have made it clear they want it. We are working hard to secure more doses from the federal government and partner with private and public organizations to get the vaccine out and protect Arizonans,” Ducey said.

Walmart among stores that will offer vaccine

Several thousand retail pharmacies will also begin administering vaccines as part of a federal program, with Walmart, CVS and Walgreens saying vaccinations will kick off Friday in participating stores.

More than 1,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in 22 states will begin administering the vaccine as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, according to Walmart. It’s unclear how many doses will be available.

The company said Tuesday it had worked with the CDC to identify pharmacy locations according to factors such as population density and infection rates, and also looked at locations in medically underserved areas.

Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies are already vaccinating in 11 states under state allocations, according to the company’s news release.

The Biden administration announced last week the federal government will begin direct shipments of coronavirus vaccines to retail pharmacies starting Thursday, with a total of 1 million doses going to about 6,500 stores before eventually expanding.

CVS and Walgreens have said they will get around 420,000 doses of the 1 million doses available.

82% of educators not vaccinated, survey finds

Amid nationwide conversations on the steps needed for safe school school reopenings, the country’s largest teachers’ union released a survey showing about 82% of the educators it represents have not yet received a vaccine.

The survey, conducted by the National Education Association, found that “the number of educators back to work in physical buildings far outpaces the number of educators being vaccinated.”

Teachers have protested and voiced concerns about returning to the classroom after losing colleagues to the virus. But, according to a CNN analysis, teachers are not currently being prioritized for vaccination in 24 states.

After polling more than 3,300 of its members, the association found about 70% said they would feel safer about returning to in-person learning if they were vaccinated. About 64% said they are currently working in school buildings all or part of the time.

Perception of Covid-19 risk is lowest in months

Wednesday’s Gallup poll showed Republicans and Democrats are willing to be vaccinated — 51% and 91% respectively.

Of people unwilling, 25% said they were concerned the vaccines were rushed; 22% want to see if they’re safe for others; 16% don’t trust vaccines in general; and 9% want to see how effective they are. The poll also found that two-thirds of Americans were not satisfied with how the vaccination effort is going.

And the US is not out of the woods yet. According to Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday, the country has recorded more than 27.2 million cases, far more than any other country, and more than 469,000 deaths.

Variants are complicating the outlook and concerning experts.

CDC data updated on Tuesday shows more than 940 cases of Covid-19 variants first spotted in the UK, South Africa and Brazil have been reported in the US — most the highly contagious variant known as B.1.1.7, originally detected in the UK.

That number is concerning enough. But the CDC says it likely does not represent the total number of the variant cases, just those found by analyzing Covid-19 positive samples.

Americans’ perception of risk is the lowest it’s been in months, according to a new Axios-Ipsos poll. About 66% of people surveyed reported they thought there was a moderate or large risk in returning to pre-pandemic life. The last time that number was so low was in October.

In reality, now that variants are circulating, even everyday activities like grocery shopping could be more dangerous, Wen has previously cautioned. And variants could be why vaccines become an annual necessity.

On Wednesday, the CDC said double masking can significantly improve protection. Researchers found that layering a cloth mask over a medical procedural mask, such as a disposable blue surgical mask, can block 92.5% of potentially infectious particles from escaping by creating a tighter fit and eliminating leakage.

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