COVID vaccine rates in the U.S. are plunging

covid vaccine rates
Photo via The National Guard/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The COVID vaccine rate is falling across the United States. President Biden’s goal of seeing 70% of the adult U.S. population vaccinated before July 4 is now in jeopardy, as officials scramble to convince skeptical Americans to get the jab.

Officials had hoped the weeks leading up to Biden’s July 4 goal would be the final stretch, but this effort has become increasingly difficult. At the peak of vaccinations, the U.S. was averaging 3.4 million shots per day, but that number has diminished to less than 1 million by early June. The drop in COVID vaccine rates varies widely across the U.S., with a few states lagging far behind others

Most Americans who needed no urging to get their shots have already been fully vaccinated. This leaves only the hesitant, those who outright refuse to get their vaccine, and those who are unable to be vaccinated at this time.

Around one-third of American adults have a “wait and see” attitude surrounding the vaccines and have no immediate plans to get vaccinated, according to polls. Their skepticism is fueled by continued anti-vax conspiracy theories and a reduced fear about the virus in the U.S. Officials are pushing back against this relaxed attitude, however, noting that, without widespread immunity, cases may see a surge later in 2021. 

The primary issue lies among the southern and midwestern states. States like Utah, Montana, and the Dakotas have seen a sharp decline in COVID vaccine rates, and, at this rate, are unlikely to reach Biden’s goal. Some states, primarily along the East Coast, have already reached the 70% vaccination benchmark, and several other states are on track to reach it by the deadline.

Without similar numbers from all U.S. states, however, the country is unlikely to surpass 70% inoculation among the entire population. 

The decline in COVID vaccine rates has prompted officials to put effort into incentives like free beer, food, or marijuana, according to the Washington Post. In West Virginia, proof of a vaccine could even earn you a rifle, and other states are offering cash incentives. 

Officials say that widespread immunity is necessary to avoid a resurgence of the virus in the fall or winter. They’ve additionally noted the risk that the virus could mutate among non-vaccinated individuals, allowing it to present a risk even to those who’ve received their shots.

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Sources: Washington Post, USA Today

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