WASHINGTON — The United States has seen a steady uptick in the number of individuals getting their first Covid vaccine, driven by those living in states with some of the lowest vaccination rates — the very states hardest hit by the recent surge in infections.
Over the last 24 hours, the U.S. saw the highest number of daily shots administered since July 3, with 864,000 vaccinations administered. Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Oklahoma are now vaccinating people at a pace not seen since April, White House Covid coordinator Jeffrey Zients said Thursday.
In those states, less than half of the population has gotten at least one dose, below the national average of 58 percent, and hospitals are running out of beds and staff to treat those in need.
Biden administration officials said they believed the trend is driven by residents in the hardest-hit states seeing the effects of the virus first-hand, and growing concern about the risk the delta variant poses to younger adults and children.
“We’re seeing the most significant increases in states with the highest case rates — we’ve more than doubled the average number of people newly vaccinated each day over the past three weeks in the states with the highest case rates,” Zients said.
It’s a much-needed boost for the administration’s vaccination efforts, which had been on a steady decline since April despite growing efforts by the White House to encourage people to get vaccinated with incentives, celebrity endorsements and community programs. Biden just met his July Fourth goal of having 70 percent of adults at least patricianly vaccinated this week.
Because it can take up to six weeks for a vaccinated individual to receive full protection from the virus, it will likely take time before the increase in vaccinations translates into a drop in cases.
Other states seeing a surge in vaccination demand include Tennessee, which has seen a 90 percent increase in first shots over the past two weeks; Oklahoma, with a 82 percent increase; and Georgia, with a 66 percent increase, Zients said.
“Clearly, Americans are seeing the impact of being unvaccinated and unprotected,” Zients said. “And they responded by doing their part, rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated.”