May 10, 2021 -- The U.S. could administer COVID-19 vaccines to 185 million Americans by September — reaching about 88% of the adult population — according to a new forecast from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Public health officials have targeted a goal of vaccinating between 70% to 85% of the population to control the spread of the coronavirus. Earlier this week, President Joe Biden announced a goal of reaching 70% of the adult population by July 4. The IHME forecast predicts that 70% of the adult population will receive at least one dose by the end of May, and 65% will be fully vaccinated by mid-June.
At the same time, IHME data scientists said vaccine hesitancy and new coronavirus variants could still lead to another increase in cases. They added that the explosive outbreak in India, which has been linked to the B.1.617 variant identified there, likely won’t cause a surge in the U.S. this summer, but it may later this year.
“Looking to the fall, if vaccine confidence means that vaccination rates in adults only reach 70%, and the vaccines have reduced efficacy against the escape variants, then the risk of a winter surge remains substantial,” IHME wrote.
Certain incentives and requirements could encourage more people to get vaccines, according to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
About 3 in 10 unvaccinated adults who aren’t ready to get the vaccine said they’d be more likely to get a shot if it was offered at a place that they typically visit for healthcare or if they only needed one dose. About a quarter of those who aren’t ready to get the vaccine also said they’d be more likely to get vaccinated if it was required for flights, international travel, or large events and performances.
The poll also found that 28% of unvaccinated adults said they’d be more likely to get a shot if their employer gave paid time off to get vaccinated and recover from side effects. About 25% said they’d be more likely to get a shot if their employer offered a financial incentive of $200.
As public health officials look ahead to forecast the course of the pandemic, vaccine manufacturers are creating booster shots to target coronavirus variants, according to CNN. Moderna announced this week that a booster shot of its updated vaccine could protect against the B.1.351 variant, which was first identified in South Africa, and the P.1 variant, which was first identified in Brazil.
“Reinfections will happen at some point, and the best way to ensure that we do not have renewed outbreaks in well-vaccinated countries is to boost and maintain the highest possible levels of neutralizing immunity,” Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, told CNN.