The pace of vaccinations in the United States may be slowing down as vaccine hesitancy takes hold.
About 1.8 million vaccination jabs were reported Tuesday, the lowest one-day number in two weeks. Some of the decline could be attributed to availability, dinged by a pause in Johnson & Johnson doses. But demand has softened at some vaccinations sites, even as vaccine availability has been opened up to every U.S. adult. About 1 in 4 Americans say they might decline vaccination.
President Joe Biden said Wednesday that his administration is about to meet its goal of giving out 200 million vaccine doses within his first 100 days in office, but he also pointed out the program is entering a new phase that involves convincing those who are vaccine hesitant that the shots are safe and effective.
“If you’re waiting for your turn, wait no longer,” Biden said. “Now is the time for everyone over 16 years of age to get vaccinated.”
Public health officials and other advocates are providing new incentives to win over those who are reluctant. DC Marijuana Justice promoted a “Joints for Jabs” program. Krispy Kreme offered doughnuts, Budweiser offered beers.
In Florida’s Palm Beach County, three mass vaccination sites had no takers for 10,000 of their 16,000 slots. Undeterred, the county will use three mobile units, each capable of vaccinating 500 people a day, to reach minority groups and others who aren’t signing up to get shots at the mass vaccination centers or retail locations.
“It makes more sense to go to them instead of waiting for them to come to us,” said Darcy Davis, CEO of the county’s health care district.
– Mike Stucka, USA TODAY, and Jane Musgrave, Palm Beach Post
Also in the news:
►A Chinese health official says around 200 million people, or 14.29% of the population, have been vaccinated for COVID-19 so far.
►Italy is distributing 184,000 doses of J&J doses to regional vaccination centers and recommending it for people over 60. Blood clot issues that prompted a pause in J&J vaccinations involved women under 50.
►India’s Health Ministry reported 295,041 new cases on Wednesday with 2,023 deaths, taking total fatalities to 182,553. India has recorded 15.6 million cases, the second highest total behind the United States.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 31.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 568,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 143 million cases and 30 million deaths. Nearly 278 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and almost 216 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: Have a loved one who doesn’t want to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Here’s how to talk to them.
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Biden calls on employers to offer paid time off for vaccinations
Sensing a shift in the nation’s COVID-19 inoculation program from not enough supply to dwindling demand, the Biden administration is trying to make it easier for Americans to get their shots.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday urged employers big and small to give their workers paid time off to get vaccinated and, if necessary, to recover from side effects. Biden said employers with fewer than 500 workers can get a tax reimbursement to cover the expense.
“No working American should lose a single dollar from their paycheck because they chose to fulfill their patriotic duty and getting vaccinated,’’ Biden said.
Only 43% of working adults in the U.S. have received a COVID vaccine shot.
Scathing report hits plant making J&J vaccine
An inspection report from the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday skewered conditions and training at a Baltimore factory where the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was being manufactured.
The 13-page report says the Emergent BioSolutions Bayview plant was too small, poorly designed and dirty. Unsealed bags of medical waste were observed, along with peeling paint and damaged floors and walls that could inhibit proper cleaning, the inspectors said. Employees were not adequately trained and didn’t handle ingredients correctly, the report says.
Production at the facility, where an ingredient mix-up had resulted in 15 million vaccine doses getting ruined, was halted last week. No vaccines from the plant have been distributed in the U.S.
Demand for million-dollar homes heated up during pandemic
As wealthy Americans took advantage of cheap mortgages, increased savings and the ability to work from home during the pandemic, their demand for bigger homes and million-dollar listings outpaced sales of homes across all other price ranges.
The number of homes sold for more than $1 million rose by 81% to 17,216 in February, from 9,635 a year earlier. At the same time, the number of homes sold for under $100,000 fell 26% to 22,569 from 30,382 a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors told USA TODAY.
“There are people who have become much wealthier as their stock portfolios rise and they aren’t spending money on other things besides housing,” Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather says. “They are not going out to restaurants or on vacations, and they want to spend their money on housing, spending more time at home.”
– Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy
‘Joints for Jabs’ a hit in DC
DC Marijuana Justice sponsored a one-day “Joints for Jabs” campaign Tuesday, but you had to sniff around to find the sites. “We are not publishing the locations of the #JointsForJabs giveaway locations because we do not want lines or crowding,” the group said on Twitter.
Later some individuals posted the location of some sites. And the group tweeted this: “A Big THANK YOU goes out to all the volunteers and donors who helped make today’s #JointsForJabs a huge success!”
1 in 4 New Yorkers were infected in first surge of virus, study says
Almost 25% of New York City residents were infected with the coronavirus in the first few months of the epidemic, a new study says. The number was above 30% for Black and Hispanic New Yorkers, according to the study by the city Health Department in cooperation with other agencies. Researchers reviewed antibody testing data from last spring for more than 45,000 New Yorkers. The presence of antibodies serves as evidence of past infection.
“Given disparities in infection risk, effective interventions for at-risk groups are needed during ongoing transmission,” the study’s authors said.
New York was overwhelmed by infections and deaths in the early days of the pandemic. More than 32,000 New Yorkers have died and more than 900,000 infections have been reported.
Nugent, recovering from virus, says ‘pandemic is real’
Rocker and gun rights activist Ted Nugent, who said on Facebook on Monday that he is feeling better after becoming so ill with the virus he had to “crawl out of bed,” says claims that he believes COVID-19 is a hoax are untrue.
“There’s been worst conditions and health problems in the past in this country, around the world, where nobody ever shut down mom and pop diners and shut down entire economic societies in the United States of America,” Nugent told ABC7 in Fort Myers, Florida. “I will continue to believe that that’s a hoax… but the pandemic is real and the people that are sick are real.”
Nevada woman improving after brain surgeries prompted by clots
An 18-year-old woman in Nevada who suffered seizures after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has had three brain surgeries related to blood clots, a spokesperson for her family says. Emma Burkey began feeling sick about a week after receiving the one-dose vaccine early this month, spokesman Bret Johnson said. She was one of about a half dozen women in the U.S. known to have experienced a serious clotting side effect after the J&J vaccine. One person died.
Burkey was taken out of an induced coma and off a respirator, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Her parents, Russ and Kathy Burkey, have visited her only briefly each day because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“She is improving slowly,” Johnson said. “The word we got from her parents last night was ‘slowly, slowly slowly.’ ”
Hawaii to loosen requirements for travel between islands
Hawaii will allow people who have been fully vaccinated to skip pre-travel testing and quarantine requirements for flights between islands. The rule, effective May 11, is only for people who have received vaccinations in Hawaii and for travel within the state. Gov. David Ige said the state has been able to keep steady and hospitalizations low.
“We are ready to take this next step,” he said. “I know how important (it is) for residents to be able to travel to see their friends and family on other islands, and this provides a way for them to do that safely.”
Contributing: The Associated Press