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Many Americans are getting vaccinated but experts say even more need shots to avoid future COVID outbreaks

Posted at 3:41 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 17:58:34-04

(WXYZ) — More Americans have been getting the shot against COVID-19. At least 50% of adults are fully vaccinated in 25 states. While this is encouraging news, experts say more residents need to get vaccinated to avoid future outbreaks. Our Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi discusses where Michigan falls on this benchmark.

Dr. Nandi: According to data released by the CDC, Michigan has vaccinated over 50% of adults. And we have over 57% of people age 16 and up who have been given at least one shot. Now, out of the 25 states that have reached the halfway mark, the state that’s in first place is Maine. They have vaccinated more than 62% of adults 18 and up. While this is positive news, experts are still stressing the importance of getting those numbers higher. If we look at the total population of America, only 39% are fully vaccinated, and just over 49% have received one shot. Those numbers do jump a bit higher if we don’t’ count the kids out and only look at adults. Then we have 49.6% fully vaccinated and 61.3% who’ve been given their first shot.

Question: We’re seeing low COVID numbers, how real is the concern that we’ll have future outbreaks if we don’t get more people vaccinated?

Dr. Nandi: It’s great that our numbers have continued to drop. We have fewer infections, fewer hospitalizations, and fewer deaths. And to me, this really shows how well the vaccines are working. Plus there is new data that supports this. In one study, University of Florida scientists compared efficacy of vaccines. And they found that Pfizer was 89.9% effective against the B.1.1.7 variant first found in the UK. And it was 75% effective against the B.1.351 variant first found in South Africa. As for the variant first found in India, B.1.617, another study found Pfizer was 88% effective against this variant. But, and this is important if a person only got the first dose and not the second dose, then the efficacy rate dropped from 88% to 33%. So this really highlights the importance of getting both shots. Now getting back to the question regarding future outbreaks, I do believe there is a possibility of our numbers spiking if we don’t get more folks vaccinated. I’m especially concerned now that our pandemic restrictions have eased again, and more people are getting out and doing things. We need to continue to encourage more folks to get the shots. Because the best way to really protect ourselves and our communities is getting 70% of our population vaccinated. That’s a high protection rate and it leaves little room for the virus to spread and mutate.