In another sign that coronavirus vaccination rates have plateaued in America, a new poll shows that most adults who wanted a COVID-19 vaccine have already gotten one.
Released Wednesday, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report shows 65% of adults polled have received at least one dose of the vaccine, up from 62% in May.
But only 3% of those who haven't been vaccinated said they plan to do so as soon as they can. About 14% said they will definitely not get vaccinated.
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned there could soon be "two Americas"—one where most people are vaccinated and another where low vaccination rates could trigger spikes in cases.
"When you have such a low level of vaccination superimposed upon a variant that has a high degree of efficiency of spread, what you are going to see among under-vaccinated regions, be that states, cities or counties, you're going to see these individual types of blips," he told CNN.
"This is entirely avoidable, entirely preventable. If you are vaccinated, you diminish dramatically your risk of getting infected and even more dramatically your risk of getting seriously ill," Fauci said. "If you are not vaccinated, you are at considerable risk."
Nearly 20% of the people who are not vaccinated said they believe the vaccine is too new. A smaller number of people surveyed cited other reasons, like concerns about side effects or distrust in the government.
More than 30% of adults who are not immunized said they would be more inclined to get a vaccine if it's completely approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. All COVID-19 vaccines in the United States are now only approved for emergency use.
The report did uncover one bright spot: When employers encourage vaccination, rates rise. About 73% of workers with employers encouraging COVID-19 vaccination said they have received at least one shot, compared to 41% with employers not encouraging vaccination.
"Getting more Americans vaccinated isn't only up to the government," KFF President and CEO Drew Altman said in a KFF news release. "Even without requiring workers to get a vaccine, employers can play a role by offering paid time off to get vaccinated and encouraging their workers to do so."
The report also found that in most American households, either everyone is vaccinated against COVID-19 or no one is.
The poll shows 77% of vaccinated adults said everyone in their home is vaccinated, while 75% of unvaccinated adults said no one they live with is.
But overall, more people live in vaccinated homes: 50% of adults said they live in fully vaccinated households, while 25% said they're in fully unvaccinated households, the poll showed.
Pfizer, Moderna vaccines may stand guard against COVID for years
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines trigger an immune system response that could fend off the coronavirus for years to come, new research reveals.
The latest study bolsters growing evidence that most people immunized with the mRNA vaccines may not need booster shots, with one key caveat: That the virus and its variants don't evolve too much beyond the virus' original form.
"It's a good sign for how durable our immunity is from this vaccine," Ali Ellebedy, an immunologist at Washington University in St. Louis, who led the study, told The New York Times.
The study, published Monday in the journal Nature, did not look at the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but Ellebedy said he expected the immune response for that vaccine to be less durable than that produced by mRNA vaccines.
Last month, Ellebedy and his colleagues reported that immune cells that recognize the virus lingered in bone marrow for at least eight months after COVID-19 infection. Another team found that memory B-cells continue to mature and strengthen for at least a year after infection, the Times reported.
Those findings suggested that immunity might last years, possibly a lifetime, in people who were infected and later vaccinated. But whether vaccination alone might demonstrate the same power was unclear.
After an infection or a vaccination, a specialized structure called the germinal center forms in lymph nodes, the researchers explained. This structure is where B-cells are trained. After infection with the coronavirus, the germinal center forms in the lungs. But after vaccination, the cells' education takes place in lymph nodes in the armpits, within reach of researchers.
Ellebedy's team found that 15 weeks after the first dose of vaccine, the germinal center was still highly active in all 14 study participants, and that the number of memory cells that recognized the coronavirus had not dropped.
"The fact that the reactions continued for almost four months after vaccination—that's a very, very good sign," Ellebedy told the Times, because terminal centers typically peak one to two weeks after immunization, and then wane.
Other experts agreed.
"Everyone always focuses on the virus evolving—this is showing that the B-cells are doing the same thing," Marion Pepper, an immunologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, told the Times. "And it's going to be protective against ongoing evolution of the virus, which is really encouraging."
"Usually by four to six weeks, there's not much left," Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona, told the Times. But germinal centers stimulated by the mRNA vaccines are "still going, months into it, and not a lot of decline [is seen] in most people."
The results suggest that a vast majority of vaccinated people will be protected over the long term—at least, against the existing variants. People who survived COVID-19 and were later immunized may also never need booster shots, experts think. However, older adults, people with weak immune systems and those who take drugs that suppress immunity may still need boosters.
More information: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 vaccinations.
Journal information: Nature
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