Saturday, October 23, 2021

Some fear boosters will hurt the drive to reach the unconnected

MIKE STOBBE. By

NEW YORK (AP) – The spread of COVID-19 vaccination requirements across the US has so far not had the desired effect, with the number of Americans getting their first shot in recent weeks. And some experts worry that the move to give boosters could make matters worse.

The fear is that the rollout of booster shots will cause some people to question the vaccine’s effectiveness in the first place.

“Many of my patients are already saying, ‘If we need a third dose, what was the point of that? said Dr. Jason Goldman, a physician in Coral Springs, Florida.

According to the most recent federal data available, the average daily number of Americans receiving their first dose of the vaccine has been falling for six weeks, dropping more than 50% from about 480,000 in early August to 230 by the middle of last week, 000 has been reduced.

An estimated 70 million vaccine-eligible Americans have yet to start immunization, despite summer infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from the Delta variant.

This is the case despite a growing number of businesses announcing vaccination requirements for their employees, including Google, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Disney. In addition, large cities such as New York and San Francisco are demanding vaccinations for people to eat in restaurants or enter certain other businesses.

Separately, President Joe Biden on September 9 announced sweeping new vaccine requirements for 100 million Americans. Employees of businesses with more than 100 people on the payroll must undergo vaccinations or weekly testing. But the mandate has not yet taken effect; Necessary rules are still being worked out.

Eli French of Omaha, Nebraska, said the move toward booster shots only reinforced her conviction that vaccinations aren’t necessary, especially for people who take care of themselves.

“It comes back to the mindset of not needing your hand through every situation,” said French, founder of a small advocacy group called Nebraskans Against Government Overreach.

Tara Ducart, a 40-year-old rancher from Hazen, North Dakota, and board member of Health Freedom North Dakota, an organization fighting mask and vaccine mandates, said: “I think there’s a lot of hesitation because if the first two shots work If not, why take the third shot?”

Scientists have emphasized that the vaccine is highly effective against serious illness and death from COVID-19, noting that the unconfirmed accounts for most of the recent dead and hospitalizations. But experts have also seen signs that the safety of the vaccine may be slipping, and they want to get ahead of the problem.

Experts have long said that the key to ending the US pandemic is vaccination of the vast majority of the American public – perhaps up to 90%. But of the more than 283 million Americans age 12 and older who are eligible for the shots, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, only 65% ​​– 184 million — are fully vaccinated. Children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, which means that only 55% of the American public is fully protected.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Valensky said Tuesday that health officials have not lost sight of that problem. The booster effort “will not distract us from our most important focus — to vaccinate as many people as possible with the primary series,” she said.

White House officials said they suspect the need for boosters is a real concern among most non-vaccinated people who, for a variety of reasons, including misinformation, have lost their lives despite nearly a year’s worth of data showing their survival potential. Has continued to resist receiving shots. .

He also argues that as the pool of illiterate Americans gradually shrinks, so will the number of newcomers. They say the latest numbers should not be read as a sign that the mandate is not working, given that most businesses have not yet implemented the Biden administration’s vaccination-or-test policy.

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Indeed, despite the downward immunization trends in CDC data, they say there is evidence employer mandates are already working. White House officials cited several success stories, including a massive increase in the percentage of immunization staff at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, United Airlines and the Department of Defense.

Noel Brewer, a University of North Carolina professor of health behavior, said the mandate shows promise and there is good reason to be optimistic.

“I think we are heading into a great season for vaccination. Everything is going well,” said Brewer, who advises the CDC and the World Health Organization on COVID-19 vaccination policy. Is.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC authorized a booster dose of Pfizer’s vaccine for the millions of Americans who are 65 and older who have underlying health conditions or work in jobs that put them at high risk. put in. Additional doses will be given after six months of the two-shot regimen.

Regulators have yet to raise the question of booster shots for people getting the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

More than 400,000 Americans received boosters at drugstores over the weekend, according to White House officials, and more than 1 million have signed up for them.

But some members of an expert panel that advises the CDC worried last week that the booster discussion was a distraction from the more pressing need to vaccinate more Americans.

“We have a very effective vaccine, and it’s like saying, ‘It’s not working,'” said Dr. Pablo Sánchez of Ohio State University.

At that meeting, a CDC official presented unpublished data from a recent 1,000-person survey that suggested giving a booster would make 25% of unvaccinated Americans much less likely to get the shot. This week, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey of more than 1,500 adults found that 71% of uneducated people say recent news about boosters is a sign that vaccines aren’t working.

Some outside experts saw it coming.

Dr. James Conway, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Wisconsin, said last week that if people hesitant to the vaccine “start having the idea that it’s only going to last six or eight or 10 months,” they might The whole idea turned sour.

Meanwhile, a rise in the heat of the pandemic has shown signs of easing. Deaths still average over 2,000 a day, but cases and hospitalizations are declining.

While any drop in the toll of COVID-19 is welcome, it could also undermine the effort of health officials to create a sense of urgency in the uninsured. This can be a difficult task even when cases explode.

The director of orthopedic trauma surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and chief of a coronavirus task force in Nashville, Tennessee, Dr. Alex Jehangir recalls the operation of an elderly man injured in a car wreck in the summer. The man survived those injuries but died of COVID-19.

Jahangir said he was shocked at how the man’s family used to absorb facts about the dangers of COVID-19 only at the very end.

“Only when he was negatively affected did he seek the truth,” said Jahangir.

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Associated Press writer Zeke Miller in Washington; Grant Schulte in Omaha, Nebraska; and Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas contributed to this story.

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The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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