As of June 1, 2021, 41% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including over half of all adults.
70% of U.S. adults will have at least one shot
160 million U.S. adults will be fully vaccinated
62.8% of U.S. adults have at least one shot
134 million U.S. adults are fully vaccinated
Five states have fully vaccinated over 50% of their populations: Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. One territory, the Republic of Palau, is even nearing the elusive 70% mark we’ve been using as a ballpark figure for herd immunity.
While there’s still no clear percentage of the population necessary to reach herd immunity for COVID-19, 70% is a good place to start. Herd immunity refers to the protectiveness achieved when a significant portion of a population develops immunity to an infectious disease, either through vaccination or having a prior illness. Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, used to say 60% to 70% of the population needed to be vaccinated or recovered to reach herd immunity, his projection has evolved to range from 70% to 90%.
Herd immunity is a complex calculation that relies on both past infections and number of people vaccinated. Because the World Health Organization emphasizes herd immunity should rely on vaccination and not disease exposure, for the sake of projections, our numbers focus on the time it will take to hit 70% through vaccination alone.
When we last reported on vaccine distribution two weeks ago, Maine was the only state to have cleared the 50% mark.
While the halfway mark is a milestone worth celebrating, it also means that in most places, 50% of the population is still unvaccinated. And those people are not exactly rushing to sign up for an appointment. This week, both the daily average rate of first doses and daily average rate of second doses started to trend downward.
The hope is that averages will rise again, even slightly, as adolescents continue to get vaccinated and eligibility expands to younger groups. For example, we saw a bump in the rate of first doses following the May 13 authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for people under the age of 16.
On May 16, adolescents (12-17) accounted for a fifth of all vaccine doses administered, which is on par with vaccination rates among other age groups. This is a good sign of things to come, indicating that kids—and importantly, their parents—are largely on board with vaccination.
National Distribution Is on the Decline
Between Monday, May 24 and Monday, May 31, the government delivered 9,066,570 COVID-19 vaccine doses to states, the lowest amount we’ve seen since January. At the end of April, the government was still delivering its consistent ~20 million doses to states each week, but that number steadily declined throughout the month of May. The reason isn’t a lack of supply like it was in the early days of vaccine distribution. Now, states are ordering fewer doses as demand continues to drop.
On the one hand, this can be viewed as a good thing: So many people are already vaccinated that states no longer need to scramble to secure doses. But on the other hand, just under half of Americans still haven’t received even one dose of the vaccine. Plenty of people still need to get a shot. While some of them are kids who are not yet eligible, about 37% of the unvaccinated group are adults who are eligible. And the vaccine hesitancy consistently seen among this group is a frustrating blocker towards protecting those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19.
Are Incentives Making a Difference?
To sway the hesitant towards vaccination, companies and local governments alike have begun offering incentives, from transportation and free drinks to cash prizes and college scholarships. A few states have announced vaccine lotteries in which people can win millions for getting vaccinated. But has the promise of perks encouraged more people to get vaccinated?
While a delay in states reporting their vaccination numbers could be at play, so far, it doesn’t seem like it.
In the weeks after Ohio announced its Vax-a-Million campaign, there was a slight increase in the number of first doses administered in the state (about a 400-dose increase during the week of May 17), but it has since settled back down.
In Maryland, the number of people receiving first doses week over week has remained relatively stagnant throughout the month of May, even after Governor Hogan announced a vaccine lottery initiative called #VaxToWin.
In spite of the Take Your Shot, Oregon, campaign launched on May 21, the rate of first doses has declined in the state.
Data by Amanda Morelli/Adrian Nesta