Delta Variant Fears, Incentives Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Seekers

The combination of fear about COVID-19’s highly contagious Delta variant and various incentives are causing the unvaccinated to flock to sites offering vaccinations. Pharmacies in some areas are becoming overwhelmed again. Find out what is behind the onslaught.

WASHINGTON, DC – With fears growing about the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant of COVID-19 – which is predicted to increase to 82.2% of cases in the United States – many pharmacists are busy administering vaccines again.

As of the end of July, the 7-day average number of administered vaccine doses reported to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rose to 615,404, a 16.15% increase from the previous week.

According to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker Vaccination Demographic Trends:

  • 7% of people ages 65 or older had received at least one dose of vaccine and 79.9% were fully vaccinated;
  • More than two-thirds (69.4%) of people ages 18 or older had received at least one dose of vaccine and 60.3% are fully vaccinated.
  • For people ages 12 or older, 66.9% had received at least one dose of vaccine and 57.7% were fully vaccinated.

Overall, the CDC said, 344,071,595 had been administered by that point, and 164 million Americans had been fully vaccinated, making up 49.4% of the U.S. population. At the same time, 57.2% had received at least one dose.

Public health officials said the trend is moving up compared to the week before, with a .08% increase in first shots and a .06% increase in those fully vaccinated.

“COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are once again increasing in nearly all states, fueled by the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, which is much more contagious than past versions of the virus,” the CDC said on its tracker. “The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates. Although COVID-19 vaccination is the most effective prevention measure, vaccination rates across the United States have varied.”

Demand for COVID-19 vaccination appears to be increasing most in the states with the highest proportions of new infections, so pharmacists can expect to be hit hardest by vaccine-seekers in states such as Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada.

Another trend pushing more vaccine demand is increased incentives. President Joe Biden said the federal government would reimburse small- or medium-sized businesses that provide workers with paid time off to get vaccinated, adding, “Today, I’m announcing that we’re taking this a step further. The federal government will now reimburse those employers to give their staffs — who give their staffs time off not only to get themselves vaccinated but also to get their family members vaccinated.

“That means employers can get reimbursed if they give parents time off — with paid time, paid leave — to take their kids or their own parents to get vaccinated. “ He also said financial incentives provided by local and state governments, as well as big employers, also are critical to pushing up vaccination rates.

“So, today, I’m calling on all states and local governments to use funding they have received, including from the American Rescue Plan, to give $100 to anyone who gets fully vaccinated. I know that paying people to get vaccinated might sound unfair to folks who’ve gotten vaccinated already, but here’s the deal: If incentives help us beat this virus, I believe we should use them. We all benefit if we can get more people vaccinated,” Biden said. 

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