Lynne Sladky / AP
Friday 8 October 2021 | 3:05 p.m.
The number of Americans receiving COVID-19 vaccines has steadily increased to a three-month high as seniors and those with health concerns seek reminders, and government and employer mandates push more workers to take their first doses.
Demand is expected to increase in a few weeks if regulators allow the Pfizer vaccine for elementary school children, and some states early reopen mass immunization clinics.
In Missouri, a mass vaccination site at a former Toys R Us store is scheduled to open on Monday. Virginia plans to deploy nine major vaccination centers over the next few weeks, including one at the Richmond International Raceway.
Colorado opened four mass vaccination sites in mid-September, mainly to meet employer mandates, and authorities have seen a 38% increase in vaccinations statewide in the first week.
The total number of doses administered in the United States averages 1 million per day, almost double the level in mid-July – but still well below last spring. The increase is mainly due to boosters, with nearly 10% of the country’s over-65 population already receiving a third injection, but there are signs of increased demand from other groups as well.
As of Thursday, 1.1 million doses were given, including just over 306,000 to newly vaccinated people, said Dr Cyrus Shahpar, White House COVID-19 data director.
Organizers of the effort to reach the roughly 67 million unvaccinated U.S. adults say the increase in demand can be attributed to the approval of the Pfizer recall, mandates that have forced employees to choose between the shot and their work and sobering statistics that show almost all COVID-19 deaths are among the unvaccinated.
“We are seeing people who need vaccines to keep jobs,” said Dr. Ricardo Gonzalez-Fisher, who runs a mobile vaccination clinic primarily for Latinos in Colorado.
Last weekend, his clinic gave 30 injections to people outside the Mexican Consulate in Denver. “These days 30 is a pretty good number,” he said.
Virginia state vaccine coordinator Dr Danny Avula said opening large vaccination centers will allow local health departments to focus on reaching underserved communities. “It should really help ease the burden on our local suppliers,” he said.
Last week, the number of people getting vaccinated at a shopping center in Charlottesville, Va. Doubled from the previous week, said Ryan McKay, who oversees COVID-19 operations for the Blue Ridge Health District.
The big push now, he said, is in neighborhoods where rates are low. The health district has set up mobile clinics during weekend basketball tournaments, high school football games and even at a local market where 20 people have been vaccinated per day.
“These 20 vaccinations seem small, but it’s really a huge success,” McKay said.
Vice President Kamala Harris stopped by the vaccination center in Newark, New Jersey on Friday, where she met with patients and health workers and encouraged people to get vaccinated.
“There will be an end to this,” she said. “We really feel like we’re starting to tackle this. “
Alba Lopez in Ohio decided to get a Pfizer vaccine on Friday at the Columbus Public Health Department after she grew tired of the bi-weekly tests required by her employer, Chase Bank, and completed an online form every day indicating whether she had a fever and how she was feeling. .
The vaccine “helped me avoid all of this,” said Lopez, who also thought his business would eventually need it.
Health officials in Springfield, Missouri, one of the early epicenters of the Delta surge, are opening the new vaccination site in the old toy store as they expect to see an influx of people.
About 28 million more American children could be eligible for reduced-dose pediatric injections as early as November if regulators give their approval. Regulators have yet to address the issue of booster shots for people who have received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but it will likely happen soon.
“All in all, in the weeks and months to come, we expect more than 120,000 people to get vaccinated,” said Jon Mooney, deputy director of the Springfield-Greene County Department of Health. “We are already seeing increased demand over the past two weeks. “
Cases in the Springfield area are on the decline, but 78 people remain hospitalized in the city, and federal authorities have determined that community transmission remains high.
Mitchell Maccarone, 24, got his second shot Thursday at a CVS pharmacy in North Smithfield, Rhode Island. He wanted to wait until the vaccine received full FDA approval.
“Before I put something in my body, I want to make sure it’s fully approved,” he said. “I’m not in a high risk age group either. I’m healthy, and I had COVID, and it was really just the sniffles. “
Vaccination sites that opened over the past week in Memphis, Tennessee and Tampa, Florida have attracted mostly people looking for booster shots and only a handful of people have received their first or second vaccine, have said the organizers who expect an increase in demand.
An increase in vaccinations in Louisiana began in August, as so many people fell ill with the highly contagious delta variant, said Sheree Taillon, vaccine incentives coordinator for the state’s health department.
But now there are few newbies looking for vaccines, and most of the people who come for their booster shots are older people and those who rushed to get the shot last winter, she said. . And COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalizations are on the decline.
“The fear is going away once again,” she said. “I think fear is the only thing to get people vaccinated at this point.”
Seewer reported from Toledo, Ohio. Associated Press editors Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas, Jennifer McDermott in Providence, Rhode Island, and Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.