“We can’t go both ways; we can’t be both exposed and unsocially distant and unvaccinated. That won’t work,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, said Monday.
About a third of the nation’s cases came from five states, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Nevada, Reiner said. All of those vaccinated less than 48% of their total population, according to CDC data
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More than 99% of all deaths from the virus in June were among unvaccinated people, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We have to pick a side and the side is that we have to get vaccinated,” Reiner said. “We have the resources to put this down — we can put it down this summer — but the way to do that is vaccination.”
To get more Americans vaccinated, officials will need to address the reasons behind some of the population’s hesitation.
For some, it’s that the vaccines aren’t fully approved, which Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN it’s only a matter of time.
“The idea that it hasn’t been approved yet is a technical aspect of the way the FDA does business,” Fauci said.
And for some, political divisions have hampered vaccinations, but Reiner stressed that with more than 600,000 Americans dead, the virus should be seen as the enemy, not vaccines.
In Arkansas, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the US at 35%, according to CDC data, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. of Little Rock that, as a black man, he was skeptical about getting a vaccine, but now wants to take charge of how to make sure all residents get the shot.
“It’s serious and we shouldn’t allow anyone to die for us to really believe the research and science. What we continue to do is start from data-driven policy and research and everything we do in our administration, and this is just another way to keep doing that because again, this saves lives,” said Scott.
‘Nothing Changed’ After Pfizer Booster Meeting
Federal health officials met on Monday with vaccine maker Pfizer/BioNTech to discuss whether and when a booster shot for its Covid-19 vaccine might be needed.
Pfizer presented data to federal health officials for about an hour, suggesting boosters may soon be needed to support protection against Covid-19, but Fauci told CNN after the meeting, “Nothing really has changed.”
He said that based on current data, federal health agencies, such as the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, aren’t ready to recommend a booster.
“We’ve made it very clear that their data is part of a much larger puzzle,” Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
The meeting came after Pfizer said last week it is seeing a decline in immunity from its coronavirus vaccine and is picking up its efforts to develop a booster shot to protect people from variants.
Pfizer stressed in a statement Monday that it will “publish more definitive data in a peer-reviewed journal and continue to work with regulatory authorities to ensure that our vaccine continues to provide the highest possible level of protection.”
The message Fauci hopes the public will take from the meeting, he said, is that discussion of boosters does not mean that current vaccines do not provide adequate protection against the virus.
“What we’re talking about isn’t necessarily how good they are, because they are undoubtedly great,” he said. “It’s the durability of the response that’s up for debate, which is perfectly reasonable when you’re dealing with a vaccine.
“We don’t know how long that extraordinarily high level of protection will last and that’s what we’re talking about.”
Boosters aren’t recommended now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be recommended at some point for the entire population or for specific, vulnerable groups, he said.
So said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said it was surprising that there was no discussion during the briefing about boosters for immunocompromised people.
A ‘tidal wave’ is coming to unvaccinated Americans
The infection rate among unvaccinated Americans is so much higher, CNN medical analyst Sanjay Gupta said Monday that America will soon move from a gap between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations to vaccinated and infected.
dr. Howard Jarvis, an emergency medicine physician in Springfield, Missouri, told CNN Monday that his sick patients are all unvaccinated.
“If they’re sick enough to be hospitalized, they’re not vaccinated. That’s the absolute common denominator among those patients,” he said. “I see the regret on their faces. You know, we ask them because we want to know, have you been vaccinated? And it’s very clear that a lot of them are sorry (not being vaccinated).”
In St. Louis County, Missouri, officials said new cases have increased 63% in the past two weeks, and County Executive Sam Page said, “There is a tidal wave coming toward our unvaccinated populations.”
According to a report from the St. Louis County Public Health Department, Covid-19-related hospitalizations rose 36% in the St. Louis metro area in the past two weeks.
“This variant is spreading quickly and this variant has the ability to devastate those in its wake, which is why it’s so important to get vaccinated now,” Page said.
Kendall Lanier, Kaitlin Collins, Amanda Sealy, Lauren Mascarenhas, Deidre McPhillips and Steve Almasy of CNN contributed to this report.
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