COVID-19 has been a significant concern in the United States since its outset, like in other countries. The virus has killed millions of Americans and sickened many more. Because of a lack of preparation or much knowledge about this virus outbreak initially, there was an atmosphere of tremendous anger, confusion, and uncertainty. Some tried to downplay the virus risk and didn’t do much to prevent it. As a result, many Americans felt more helpless. The adverse effects of the virus were visible not just in people’s physical and mental health but in the country’s economy and social conditions. However, things improved with time as everyone came together to fight this. The introduction of effective vaccines and boosters, apart from continuous guidance from health authorities regarding precautions and treatments, has been a game changer.
However, the COVID-19 scare has not vanished as the new subvariants – BA.4 and BA.5 – continue to affect people. The infection’s severity is not so high as before because of vaccination and boosters. There is enough evidence that fully vaccinated and boosted people don’t experience severe illness after catching the infection. Still, it makes some people question the efficacy of the vaccine. But the constantly mutating virus tends to escape immunity; hence, the infection risk is still there. Nevertheless, more targeted vaccines can tackle this issue. The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) informs that the US would buy Moderna’s and Pfizer’s 66 and 105 million doses for the fall vaccination drive.
Despite every effort, people are hesitant about vaccines. Although kid vaccines are available, the adoption rate is low. Even many adults are not ready for vaccination. Some places express their displeasure with COVID rules and regulations also. As per MyBioSource’s survey of 3,442 people, people in places like Montana (31% more) and South Dakota (36% more) have increasingly become against COVID measures implemented by the government.
Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants
These two virus strains have been responsible for the sudden summer wave of hospitalizations in the US. It causes enough worries among scientists and health leaders that the infection rate can be much higher in the fall. They fear that the immunity developed from previous vaccines can weaken, and the risk of infection can be higher as people start spending more time indoors, perfect for the COVID virus to find its new hosts. BA.5 has caused up to 82% of new COVID cases in the country, and BA.4 forms about 13% of them. The government reports a minimum of 126,000 new infections daily, per the CDC records. However, it can be much higher in real-time than the reported figures because of the accessibility to at-home kits for COVID tests. These test details don’t reach the health agencies.
The existing vaccines target only the original COVID strain that occurred over two years back. Since the new strains have considerably mutated, those vaccines don’t provide durable support against infections. People who completed their vaccination and took two booster shots are still vulnerable to these variants. The only relief is that the severity of the illness and the fatality rate has improved. That’s why health leaders and scientists advise updating the vaccines to target these subvariants effectively. But this doesn’t ensure that it will be a full-proof approach because the virus evolves much faster, and no one knows what shape and form it will assume by the time the fall season is here.
COVID-19 vaccine status in the US
As per the latest updates, 79% of the population (about 261,591,428 people) has taken a minimum of one shot. On the other hand, 67%, or 223,035,566 people, have completed all the doses. And nearly 32% of the people have obtained one booster shot as of August 2022. The country has distributed 803,252,035 doses, of which 75% have been used. If you look at the age-wise segmentation, data suggest that 95% of people in the 65-plus age group have obtained at least one dose, and 92% are fully vaccinated. 94% of people aged 50 to 64 have taken their first shot, and 82% have completed their vaccination. Those 25 to 49 years form about 83% of the population receiving their first dose, and 70% of them are completely immunized.
The fully vaccinated population rate drastically decreases if you check people in the age group of 18 to 24, representing only about 65%. The vaccination rate among kids is even lower despite all the efforts made by health experts to convince parents about the necessity of vaccination. Only 38% of 5 to 11 years old have taken their first shots, and 6% of those in the range of 2 to 4 years. When it comes to anyone under two years, the acceptance rate is even weaker, with only 3% of the population getting its first dose.
COVID-19 may not be as threatening as it was during its initial onset. But the risk of infection has not gone yet. Vaccines and boosters have shown enough promise in keeping one’s health safe and protected against the virus’s severity. Hence, it’s better to revisit any decision once.