I have been watching the COVID-19 vaccination rates in the United States with some dismay. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a little less than half of Americans are fully vaccinated (48.5%). This is well below the estimated 70% to 90% vaccination rate needed to achieve herd immunity. The state with the highest vaccination rate is Massachusetts, with 62.7% of its population fully vaccinated; the states with the lowest rates are Mississippi and Alabama, with 33% fully vaccinated.

Since May 2021, 13.2% of adolescents aged 12 to 18 years have received at least 1 dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Disappointedly, only 41.8% of young adults aged 18 to 24 years have been fully vaccinated. With colleges, high schools, and elementary schools set to open in the fall, the lack of herd immunity may contribute to the current wave of infections — especially with the rise in the Delta variant, which now accounts for 58% of COVID-19 cases in the US (an increase from 3% in May).

It is not just the COVID-19 vaccine that has been underutilized in America. This month’s cover article by Mary Jane S. Hanson, PhD, CRNP, FNP-BC, highlights the low vaccinations rates among older adults against shingles. Shingles vaccinations reached a peak in 2018, with 34.5% of adults older than 60 years vaccinated nationwide. Since the approval of the first shingles vaccine in 1995, more than 3.5 million cases of varicella and 100 deaths have been prevented each year.

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Also, it has been widely reported that pediatric and adolescent vaccination rates dropped at the beginning of the COVID-19. Many nurse practitioners and PAs have worked to provide alternative sites for vaccinations. Although vaccinations increased between June and September 2020, the increase did not achieve sufficient catch-up coverage, noted the CDC.

To help in the safe reopening of schools, the CDC issued a call to action encouraging health care systems, health care providers, schools, parents, and state and local governments to work together to ensure that students are caught up on all routinely recommended vaccinations.

Nikki Kean, Director
The Clinical Advisor