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August 20, 2021

A 'tsunami of patients': As hospitalizations rise, vaccination rates are climbing again

Daily Briefing

    More than one million doses of Covid-19 vaccines were administered on Thursday, according to CDC data, even as Covid-19 cases surge throughout the United States and begin to overwhelm some hospitals.

    Over 1M vaccine doses administered in one day

    On Thursday, more vaccine doses were administered than on any other single day since early July, according to CDC. The number of people receiving their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine on each day has increased by more than 70% since last month.

    According to CDC data, 60.2% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including 72.5% of all adults and 91.1% of those ages 65 and older. Further, 51.1% of the population is fully vaccinated, including 62% of all adults and 81% of those ages 65 and older.

    Oklahoma and Louisiana, two states where vaccination rates have been lower than the rest of the United States, are now seeing vaccination rates higher than the national average, Asma Mirza, chief of the White House Covid-19 Response Team, said in a call with local Louisiana faith leaders on Thursday.

    "We're seeing a new willingness, a new openness to getting vaccinated," she said.

    A 'tsunami of patients'

    The news comes as hospitals across the United States have reported surges of Covid-19 patients who are overwhelming their EDs.

    Robert Jansen, CMO at Grady Health System in Atlanta, said his health system is seeing a "tsunami of patients coming into the emergency department."

    Similarly, Lauren Meyers, director of the University of Texas Covid-19 Modeling Consortium, warned that hospitals in Texas have reached a "breaking point."

    "We are sort of in a very dire situation in Austin," she said.

    In Tennessee, Sara Cross, a member of the state's Covid-19 task force and an infectious disease specialist at the University of Tennessee, said the state "can't handle what we're seeing. We are estimating that the number of cases in Tennessee will increase six-fold by the end of September if we don't take measures to mitigate the spread."

    Cross added that the pediatric hospital in Memphis, Tenn., "currently has at least nine children in the ICU from Covid-19."

    "This is not an adult disease anymore," Cross said.

    Will annual Covid-19 booster shots be needed?

    On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced that Americans who received an mRNA vaccine should get a booster shot eight months after their second shot beginning the week of Sept. 20. However, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Thursday said she does not believe annual Covid-19 booster shots will be necessary in the future.

    "You know, this virus has been humbling, so I don't want to say never, but we are not necessarily anticipating that you will need this annually," she said.

    "It does look like after this third dose you get a really robust response, and so we will continue to follow the science both on the vaccine side but also on the virus side," Walensky added. (Caldwell, CNN, 8/20; Anderson, Becker's Hospital Review, 8/19; Choi, The Hill, 8/19)

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