U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has said the U.S. was increasing funding to areas that had been hit disproportionately by COVID-19, including $4 billion in funding to the Indian Health System. Though the IHS has impressively distributed 1 million vaccines in Indian Country, recent data showed that American Indians and Alaska Natives suffered devastating loss when the pandemic was at its worst.
According to a recent CDC report, they were 3.5 times more likely to get COVID than white people and more than four times as likely to be hospitalized as a result of COVID-19.
Murthy said the steady increase in cases over the last month had him more concerned than the J&J pause, which was put into place on Tuesday after the CDC and FDA found that out of the nearly 7 million people who got the J&J shot, at least 6 patients suffered blood clots roughly 6-13 days afterward.
The pause could last at least a few more weeks, according to an independent CDC advisory panel that on Wednesday decided to wait and see if more patients developed symptoms before recommending next steps on the vaccine.
“As much attention as the J&J news has received though, what I’m most concerned about, the numbers which are most on my mind are the rising cases and hospitalizations among those who are not vaccinated,” Murthy said.
He underscored the positive news, however, which is that the U.S. is one of the few countries in the world with three vaccine options and hundreds of millions of doses.
“We’re really fortunate to have highly effective vaccines and a system that’s working day and night to keep us safe. It gives me faith that we will make it through this pandemic together,” Murthy said.
All Americans age 16 and up can now get a Covid-19 vaccine. But the challenge is getting enough people to roll up their sleeves so we can finally quash this pandemic. “The vaccine is the most important pathway to ending this pandemic. That means we’ve got to get everyone in our country vaccinated,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Monday.
“Now what we’ve got to do is No. 1: Get the vaccine. No. 2: Turn around and look at our family and friends and ask if they’re going to get vaccinated. If they need help, that’s what we’ve got to do.”
About 40% of the US population — more than 132 million people — have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and about 26% of the population — more than 85 million — are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nearly 212 million doses have been administered in the US, with an average of 3 million shots per day, the CDC said. It’s critical for those age 16 and up to get vaccinated before new, more contagious strains emerge — just like the B.1.1.7 variant did.