PHILADELPHIA - The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that just under 60% of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The rise in cases, which health experts attribute to the more infectious Delta variant, has caused the CDC to recommend that both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people resume indoor mask-wearing in certain public settings and particularly in areas of "high risk."
The CDC provides on its website a by county breakdown of the areas that are considered to have high or substantial transmission.
"Unlike the alpha variant that we had back in May, where we didn’t believe that if you were vaccinated you could transmit further - this is different now with the Delta variant. And we’re seeing that now, infection is possible if you (have been vaccinated and) are a rare breakthrough infection, that you can transmit further, which is the reason for the change," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
President Joe Biden, who in tandem with the CDC lifted the national mask mandate 2 months ago, endorse the CDC's updated recommendations. He called on local governments to draw from COVID-19 relief funds to give $100 to newly vaccinated people, hoping to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country.
"Right now too many people are dying or watching someone else they love dying," Biden said. "It’s heartbreaking. And it’s complicated even more because it’s preventable."
For a myriad of reasons, vaccine hesitancy continues in America despite the assurance from health officials that the vaccines are safe and effective against preventing severe infections and hospitalizations. Some balk at the chance to get their shot(s) because of the perceived newness of the vaccines that have so far only been approved under emergency use authorization.
"It's new because we have a pandemic going on and we need to get the vaccines going so that you don't die, end up on a ventilator, or be smiling a people like me in the hospital," Dr. Mike Cirigliano said.
Echoing the sentiment of several health experts around the world, Dr. Mike fully endorsed the three approved vaccines and said he expects the Food and Drug Administration to put its stamp of approval of the shots "very quickly."
According to Dr. Mike, messenger RNA vaccines (mRNA) have been "in the works for 20 years" and were launched into study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. While the urgency of the pandemic accelerated the research timetable, Dr. Mike said the shots are not entirely new to developers.
It has been hotly debated if a previous COVID-19 infection will provide strong enough immunity to fend off a repeat bout with coronavirus. Dr. Mike partly entertained this notion because of a related debate about if previously infected people need one-shot or both shots of the vaccines.
However, he still fully advises people who have had COVID-19 to get the vaccine because it will "dramatically improve" your immune response which is necessary to fight off the more contagious and increasingly prevalent Delta variant.