As US officials push for more vaccinations amid slowing demand across the country, another state has now crossed an important milestone.
Rhode Island is now the eighth state to have administered at least one Covid-19 shot to 70% of its adult population, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state joins Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont, which have also vaccinated at least 70% of their adult population.
Twenty five states and Washington, DC, have now fully vaccinated at least half of their adult populations.
The news builds on experts’ optimism about the country’s declining Covid-19 case numbers and where things could stand by summer time as vaccine numbers continue to climb. Earlier this month, President Joe Biden set a goal of administering at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose to 70% of American adults by July 4 — and has said Americans will be able to celebrate Independence Day by then with a true semblance of normalcy.
So far, more than 61% of US adults have gotten at least one Covid-19 shot and more than 49% are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.
And about 49% of the total US population, including children over the age of 12, has received at least one shot and 39.2 % of the population — about 130 million people — is fully vaccinated, that data shows.
But the demand for a shot is down — and experts worry the slowing vaccinations may mean some communities don’t reach the widespread protection levels that officials hope for and continue to face outbreaks.
“I think we’ll be dealing with Covid-19 for quite a long time unfortunately,” emergency room physician Dr. Rob Davidson told CNN on Saturday, when asked what could happen if the country doesn’t vaccinate enough of the population.
According to CDC data published on Thursday, the average daily pace of Covid-19 vaccinations was down almost 50% from its April peak.
“We just have to keep pushing forward because, thinking about what could happen if we don’t get there, I just think we have to keep using every resource we have to get more people vaccinated,” Davidson said.
The barriers to vaccines that persist
There are still several challenges officials are working to overcome in the country’s vaccination efforts.
Experts say many Americans still have questions about the vaccines, haven’t received enough — or the right — information and others have problems with access, including being unable to take off of work to go get a shot.
“Employers not only have an opportunity to increase vaccination rates but… it turns out that they can also help to close the equity gap in vaccinations,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said during a White House Covid-19 briefing on Friday.
“This is so important because we’ve said from the beginning that success is not just determined by how many people we get vaccinated but by how equitably and fairly we vaccinate our population,” he added. “And workplaces, it turns out, can play a role in that.”
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky also said last week the agency was asking businesses to support their employees to get vaccinated.
“We are really asking the businesses to work with their workers to make sure that they have the paid time off to get themselves vaccinated so they can be safe,” she told CNN last Sunday.
The next phase of the country’s vaccination is an “all-hands-on-deck” approach, Murthy said Friday — driven by communities themselves.
“Please reach out to your family and friends,” he said. “Remind people the vaccine is free of charge. It’s now easier to get than ever before. And remind people also that the vaccine remains our single best pathway out of the Covid-19 pandemic.”