“We have a pretty narrow window of opportunity to make clear what the benefits of vaccinations are. We know that these vaccines are really effective at preventing severe disease. They also do substantially reduce your risk in each of these different types of settings, whether it’s going to the restaurant or gym, or seeing family and friends.”
The uptick comes as more states are reporting the spread of variants that are more infectious and may defeat prior immunity for those who had Covid-19.
Because of the complications provided by variants, experts say mass inoculation is necessary. But according to Wen, the situation is more nuanced than believing American society is strictly divided between pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination proponents.
“We’re neglecting the huge number of people in the middle who need, who want to get the vaccine but may have some concerns or just don’t have time to take time off of work or find child care,” she said. “We need to make vaccination easy for those individuals and also really clearly demonstrate what is the benefit of vaccination, make clear the messaging that vaccines are the pathway back to pre-pandemic life.”
States juggle expanding vaccine access and ending capacity rules
With an increase in supply, more states have expanded eligibility for the vaccines.
In New Hampshire, residents 50 and older will become eligible on Monday, and the state plans to expand access to all its citizens 16 and older “in just a matter of weeks,” according to New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu.
When asked to comment on the state’s rising average of new daily cases of Covid-19, Sununu said, “it’s really about getting the hospitalizations and the fatality rate down, which is continually coming down.”
According to the governor, a lot of people are also getting lax about mask wearing and social distancing. “We are not out of this yet,” Sununu said.
Starting Monday, Louisiana will expand vaccine eligibility to a long list of essential workers, including individuals working in higher education, food service and grocery stores, manufacturing, transportation, clergy and others. On Tuesday, Maryland will expand access to everyone ages 60 and up.
Kentucky will allow access to vaccination for those ages 50 and older starting Monday and aims for all adults to be eligible April 12. The state also joins others that have begun to open up gathering restrictions by easing curfews for bars and restaurants beginning Friday, capping them at 60% capacity.
Massachusetts will allow 12% attendance at stadiums, arenas and ballparks next week. Public-setting capacity limits are increased to 100 people indoors and 150 outdoors, with indoor house gatherings remaining at 10 people allowed.
Border restrictions continue as domestic travel rises
Dr. Wen stressed on Thursday to CNN that with the visible increase in travel and people moving toward pre-pandemic lifestyles without proper safety measures, a message needs to be enhanced by the CDC to the general public: inoculation leads to a quicker return to safer activities.
“What the CDC really needs to do at this point is to say for unvaccinated people, here are the activities that are low risk, medium risk and high risk. Probably a lot of things are going to be high risk for unvaccinated people,” Wen said.
“Then they need to say for vaccinated individuals, you’re able to do so much more. Nothing is going to be zero risk, but many of these activities that were formally high risk are now low risk,” she said. “I think that type of benefit of vaccination really needs to be illustrated to people.”
CNN’s Maggie Fox, Arman Azad, Naomi Thomas, Kelsie Smith, Gisela Crespo, Rebekah Riess, Chris Boyette, Juliana Battaglia, Kristina Sgueglia, Steve Almasy and Geneva Sands contributed to this report.