Jeff Mason and Ahmed Abulenein | Reuters
WASHINGTON – COVID-19 vaccination rates in the United States rose more than 20 percentage points after several agencies passed vaccine requirements as cases and deaths from the virus declined, Biden administration officials said Wednesday.
White House COVID-19 Coordinator Jeff Zientes told reporters that 77% of eligible Americans have received at least one vaccine.
Vaccination rates have risen thanks to mandates from private businesses, health systems, social institutions, state and local governments, he said at a briefing.
President Joe Biden’s team has struggled to defeat the coronavirus pandemic as much of the US population continues to resist the adoption of safe and widely available vaccines.
Last month, Biden announced a policy requiring most healthcare workers and federal employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and pushed major employers to vaccinate or test their workers weekly, but federal rules to enact this mandate are still in the process of being formalized. Several states and major employers have already introduced mandatory vaccines.
“Since late July, when the president first announced vaccination requirements and called on organizations to follow suit, the number of unvaccinated Americans has dropped by about a third, from 97 million to 66 million,” Zientes said.
Meanwhile, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Rochelle Walenski, said the seven-day average daily COVID-19 cases fell 12% from the previous week, and the seven-day average daily deaths fell by 5 %.
But officials have warned that, even with the unlikely new variant overtaking the highly contagious Delta that has wreaked havoc around the world, this is not the time to weaken the country’s vigilance.
“Despite the recent decline in the number of cases, there is still significant or high transmission rates in most communities across the country,” Walenski said. “We absolutely need to focus on continuing to control COVID across the country, especially in the run-up to the fall / winter season,” through camouflage and vaccinations, she said.