Young Americans are lagging with Covid-19 vaccines. These threats have experts pushing them to get shots

To reach the threshold of protection needed to limit the virus' spread, at least 70% to 85% of the US population will need to be immunized through vaccines or infection, health experts say.

Posted: May 25, 2021 9:50 AM
Updated: May 25, 2021 11:27 AM

Experts are turning their focus in the fight against Covid-19 to vaccinating young Americans -- warning that even though they don't face a high chance of serious illness, they still risk long-term symptoms if they get coronavirus.

The United States has so far made significant progress in vaccinating adults. At least 25 states, plus Washington, DC, have now fully vaccinated at least half of their adult residents, data published Sunday by the CDC shows.


FOX 55: Tracking the COVID-19 Vaccine

But many experts have identified young Americans as a critical age group for inoculation success -- the key to getting the pandemic under control in the country.

People 24 and younger are getting vaccine doses at much lower rates. Among those 12 to 15, only 1.4% have received at least one dose, while 1.7% of 16- to 17-year-olds have and 7.6% of 18- to 24-year-olds have, according to data from the CDC.

To reach the threshold of protection needed to limit the virus' spread, at least 70% to 85% of the US population will need to be immunized through vaccines or infection, health experts say.

Not only could vaccinating children, teens and young adults help reach that percentage, but leaving them unvaccinated could give the virus a chance to spread, mutate and develop a strain resistant to existing vaccines.

While vaccinated people seem to be protected against current strains, "there may be future variants for which we are not so lucky," said Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and director of the Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health.

The stable of vaccines available to adolescents could expand soon. Moderna announced Tuesday that its two-dose Covid-19 vaccine is safe and appears to be effective in kids ages 12 to 17. It plans to submit trial results to the US Food and Drug Administration in early June, along with a request for authorization to use the vaccine among children that age, the company said.

Pfizer/BioNTech's two-dose coronavirus vaccine was authorized May 11 for children ages 12 to 15.

For young Americans who feel hesitant or even unmotivated to get vaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that even mild Covid-19 illness can result in life-disrupting impacts.

"There's a syndrome that is referred to as long Covid, which means that you get a syndrome following the clearing of the virus where it could be for months," the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases said Monday at a town hall, adding that possible persisting symptoms include profound fatigue, muscle aches, temperature dysregulation and an inability to focus.

About 1 in 5 people between ages 18 and 34 who are infected with Covid-19 reported lingering symptoms beyond two or three weeks, according to a study last year by the US for Disease Control and Prevention.

And adolescents and children still deserve protection against their risk -- however small -- of contracting a serious illness, Fauci said.

Protecting students returning for school in the fall

Protection for school-aged adolescents has increasingly come into focus as officials look ahead to the new school year.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday children should be back in school full-time in-person statewide in September. His statement came after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that there will be no remote option for the city's public schools in the fall.

Currently, only students 12 years old and older are eligible for vaccines, though studies are underway on vaccinating younger children.

When New York City does open its public schools on September 13, students will still have to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines, NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said Monday.

"We would never take any risks with our most important assets ... our children," Porter said, adding that every school will be equipped with social and emotional support resources for students.

In California, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced that school campuses will reopen for in-person learning five days a week in the fall. Superintendent Austin Beutner recognized that not all families in the district will be ready to send their students back by then.

"We expect the vast majority of students, teachers and staff to be at school every day, but recognize that we must provide the online opportunity for those who need it," he said.

Understanding the origin of the virus could help mitigate another pandemic

Understanding how coronavirus developed could have an impact on officials' ability to respond to future pandemics, but debate around its origin has grown.

After a US intelligence report found that several researchers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in November 2019, a former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration said on Monday that there is "growing circumstantial evidence" that Covid-19 may have come from a lab.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Monday refuted the report and accused the US of "hyping up the lab leak theory."

"Through field visits and in-depth visits in China, the experts unanimously agreed that the allegation of lab leaking is extremely unlikely," Zhao said.

"I think the challenge right now is that the side of the ledger that supports the thesis that this came from a zoonotic source, from an animal source, hasn't budged," Dr. Scott Gottlieb said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "And the side of the ledger that suggests this could have come out of a lab has been continuing to grow,"

Whether the virus derived from an animal or a lab, it is important for health experts to know, CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen said.

"We need to understand what the origin is, if there is in fact an intermediary animal between bats and humans we need to understand because there may be a reservoir of disease we should be looking for," Wen said. "If this is indeed a lab leak, we should also understand for the purposes of securing lab safety protocols."

Among the unanswered questions are how seriously the researchers fell ill, when they got sick and if the virus was already circulating before then, Wen said.

The Chinese government has not been transparent on this issue, she said, but it is important the global community get down to the bottom of it.

"This is not the last pandemic that we are going to see and understanding the origin of this will help us to prevent something like this from happening in the future," she said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 926604

Reported Deaths: 15083
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1262201958
Lake626901087
Allen52772747
Hamilton43283445
St. Joseph41475584
Elkhart33129488
Vanderburgh29927439
Tippecanoe26589247
Johnson23267415
Hendricks21902340
Porter21473341
Clark17150224
Madison17065379
Vigo15815273
Monroe14298190
LaPorte14108237
Delaware13771219
Howard13635262
Kosciusko11232134
Hancock10637160
Warrick10523176
Bartholomew10341167
Floyd10200202
Wayne9690218
Grant8939196
Morgan8734158
Boone8299109
Dubois7596123
Henry7469128
Dearborn745187
Noble7294101
Marshall7237128
Cass7097117
Lawrence6862150
Shelby6457107
Jackson643981
Gibson6036106
Harrison595585
Huntington591891
Montgomery5706102
DeKalb563591
Knox537599
Miami531983
Clinton527164
Putnam525367
Whitley516251
Steuben486367
Wabash477492
Jasper471961
Jefferson461991
Ripley444175
Adams439365
Daviess4064106
Scott394963
White386257
Clay382356
Greene380189
Wells379683
Decatur379595
Fayette367176
Posey354941
Jennings346356
Washington325847
LaGrange315774
Spencer313034
Fountain309753
Randolph305487
Sullivan299447
Owen279161
Starke272761
Orange272659
Fulton268851
Jay250634
Perry247451
Carroll241127
Franklin233637
Vermillion229750
Rush228930
Parke215220
Tipton206754
Pike202538
Blackford165634
Pulaski158751
Crawford142818
Newton140742
Benton139816
Brown132646
Martin126916
Switzerland123510
Warren113416
Union93511
Ohio77211
Unassigned0468

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1342777

Reported Deaths: 21471
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1502191556
Cuyahoga1327732318
Hamilton962791318
Montgomery659161136
Summit555141045
Lucas50248862
Butler46732653
Stark40741974
Lorain31004529
Warren29609328
Mahoning26462637
Clermont25206287
Lake24339416
Delaware22014143
Licking20180241
Fairfield20139221
Greene19955268
Trumbull19500508
Medina19478286
Clark17565325
Richland15949231
Portage15851228
Wood15438208
Allen13875256
Miami13549249
Muskingum12261149
Wayne11647237
Columbiana11344239
Tuscarawas10657265
Marion10509148
Pickaway10301128
Scioto10082126
Erie9618171
Ross9209174
Lawrence8516116
Hancock8298141
Ashtabula8180185
Geauga8066155
Belmont7966184
Jefferson7324168
Huron7253127
Union717849
Washington7037119
Athens681064
Sandusky6734133
Darke6559136
Knox6475121
Seneca6237137
Ashland5808112
Auglaize580488
Shelby5654101
Mercer552190
Brown551068
Defiance5361100
Madison535170
Crawford5299114
Highland527581
Fulton520082
Clinton515980
Logan503182
Preble4902110
Putnam4778106
Guernsey454661
Williams448281
Champaign436264
Perry432152
Ottawa431184
Jackson413260
Pike378941
Morrow369150
Fayette367652
Coshocton359466
Hardin350069
Adams348069
Gallia338054
Holmes3197108
Henry318868
Van Wert307170
Hocking291669
Wyandot276158
Carroll256752
Paulding236442
Meigs205242
Monroe185049
Noble164840
Morgan159228
Harrison151940
Vinton133918
Unassigned05
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