by Gloria Yao ’24
Published Mar. 23rd, 2021
81.4 million people have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 44.1 million people have been fully vaccinated either with the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine or the two-dose series by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Distributing vaccines is crucial to returning to normal, as 541,000 Americans died after contracting the virus, according to the New York Times.
On average, 2.49 million doses are being administered per day. President Joe Biden has promised to administer 100 million vaccines by his 100th day in office, yet the United States has already surpassed this goal on Biden’s 59th day in office. According to Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, “‘We’ve turned a corner… We’re just getting vaccine out, day in and day out, and we’re making progress.’”
Despite the vaccines’ speedy rollout, some do not think that Biden’s vaccination goals are ambitious enough. According to German Lopez, senior correspondent at Vox, “Peter Hotez, an infectious disease and vaccine expert at Baylor College of Medicine, told [Vox] that America should aim for at least 2 million a day — and preferably 3 million.”
To truly get back to normal, though, the country needs to reach herd immunity: a majority of the population needs to be protected through either infection or vaccination so the health risk for more vulnerable minorities is minimized. According to Dr. Ashley Drews, medical director of infection prevention and control at Houston Methodist, “It’s still unclear exactly how many people will need to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19, but experts estimate that it will take somewhere around 70% of the population — with some estimates ranging as high as 90%.”
Although numerous factors can determine how quickly the U.S. reaches this threshold, if the country is able to keep up its current pace of vaccination, half the population will be at least partially vaccinated in mid-May and almost all will be vaccinated in late July. The conditions that may factor into this rate center on if corporation pledges to supply vaccines are met and if these vaccines will eventually be available to children.
Health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities are currently priorities for U.S. vaccines. The federal government highly recommends that each state should allow senior citizens to get vaccinated as well. However, states implement their own plans, creating a variety of policies across the country. Still, President Biden recently announced that a federal pharmacy program would try to add Pre-K through 12th-grade educators and staff as another top priority.
With the vaccine rollout moving steadily along, there is hope that Americans can return to pre-pandemic life within the year. But until then, the necessary precautions, such as masking and social distancing, have to be in place to protect people from the virus.