The U.S.’s coronavirus vaccination rate dropped yet again over the past week, with all but eight states reporting a decrease in the number of doses administered, continuing a concerning trend that has some public health experts doubting the country will reach the inoculation levels needed for “herd immunity.”
- After tallying a record high with an average of roughly 3.3 million doses administered each day in mid-April, the U.S.’s vaccination rate has dropped to 2.42 million daily doses as of May 3.
- The average number of shots administered decreased 12% over the past week, according to data compiled by The Washington Post, a slightly less severe (but still significant) dropoff from the week prior when the vaccination rate dove 14%.
- Vaccinations decreased nationwide in all but eight states: Mississippi, Nebraska, Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, Indiana, Minnesota and New York.
- Among them are some states lagging behind in their rollouts, including Mississippi, which after reporting the biggest jump in weekly doses administered (33%) this week still has just 23.8% of residents fully vaccinated, trailing only Alabama (23.8%) as the least vaccinated state.
- However, most of the states with the lowest shares of their populations vaccinated actually saw their rate of inoculations go down over the past week, with many citing either vaccine hesitancy or struggles to reach certain communities as key factors.
- In Louisiana, the state with the biggest decrease in vaccinations over the past week at 61%, New Orleans Metro News reported over a million coronavirus shots were sitting on shelves at the end of last month.
- Meanwhile, in Alabama, Texas and Utah and—where vaccinations dropped off between 16% and 20% over the past week, despite less than 40% of residents being partially vaccinated—health leaders are focusing on how to make getting the shot more convenient.
“While there are still many Texans willing to be vaccinated, that demand is shifting from large, mass vaccination sites to smaller, more convenient sites where Texans routinely receive medical care,” Dr. John Hellerstedt, the state’s health department commissioner, wrote in a letter sent Sunday.
Polling reveals a wide variety of reasons why some people haven’t yet gotten the vaccine. A Harris poll published Sunday found around 10% of Americans aren’t in any rush to get the vaccine but will do so when they get around to it. Another 21% said they want to wait a while before getting the vaccine, with Black respondents particularly likely to say they are waiting.
The U.S. has led one of the most successful coronavirus vaccine rollouts in the world, partially inoculating more than half of all residents over 18 and more than 82% of those over 65, one of the most vulnerable populations. However, this downward trend in vaccinations now has many public health experts concerned the country won’t reach the much sought-after threshold of “herd immunity,” at which point most people are immune to the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s top coronavirus advisor, recently distanced the administration from setting a specific goal for immunity levels, saying instead: “You vaccinate enough people, the infections are going to go down.” Public health officials have characterized it as a race against time to get as much of the country vaccinated as quickly as possible, highlighting the threat of more contagious variants in undoing the U.S.’s progress so far in curbing cases and deaths.