Rhode Island is now the eighth state to have administered at least one Covid-19 shot to 70% of its adult population, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state joins Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont, which have also vaccinated at least 70% of their adult population.
And nearly 49% of the total US population has received at least one shot and nearly 39% of the population is fully vaccinated, that data shows.
“I think we’ll be dealing with Covid-19 for quite a long time unfortunately,” emergency room physician Dr. Rob Davidson told CNN on Saturday, when asked what could happen if the country doesn’t vaccinate enough of the population.
“We just have to keep pushing forward because, thinking about what could happen if we don’t get there, I just think we have to keep using every resource we have to get more people vaccinated,” Davidson said.
The barriers to vaccines that persist
There are still several challenges officials are working to overcome in the country’s vaccination efforts.
Experts say many Americans still have questions about the vaccines, haven’t received enough — or the right — information and others have problems with access, including being unable to take off of work to go get a shot.
“Employers not only have an opportunity to increase vaccination rates but… it turns out that they can also help to close the equity gap in vaccinations,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said during a White House Covid-19 briefing on Friday.
“This is so important because we’ve said from the beginning that success is not just determined by how many people we get vaccinated but by how equitably and fairly we vaccinate our population,” he added. “And workplaces, it turns out, can play a role in that.”
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky also said last week the agency was asking businesses to support their employees to get vaccinated.
“We are really asking the businesses to work with their workers to make sure that they have the paid time off to get themselves vaccinated so they can be safe,” she told CNN last Sunday.
The next phase of the country’s vaccination is an “all-hands-on-deck” approach, Murthy said Friday — driven by communities themselves.
“Please reach out to your family and friends,” he said. “Remind people the vaccine is free of charge. It’s now easier to get than ever before. And remind people also that the vaccine remains our single best pathway out of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
It’s OK if you’re not ready to take off your mask
And that’s okay, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday.
“Fears like that are not irrational,” Fauci said during the White House Covid-19 briefing. “You can understand that when people have been following a certain trend for a considerable period of time, that it may take time for them to adjust. So I would not say that that’s irrational, I’d say that’s understandable.”
Walensky, with the CDC, has also previously said that fully vaccinated immuno-compromised people — who may still face a higher risk — should consult with their doctor before deciding whether to stop wearing a mask.
As more Americans get vaccinated, it will become “progressively more safe” to be out and about again, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases professor at Vanderbilt University, told CNN on Saturday.
“If we’re vaccinated, that vaccine is going to provide us very, very good protection,” he said. “But we need these other people to come in and be vaccinated also.”
And that will also help address concerns about whether to mask up or not, Schaffner added.
“We’ll solve this problem, we don’t have to worry about who’s wearing a mask or not, if we’re all vaccinated,” he said.
Vaccine incentive programs appear to work
“If you are on the fence, or have not gotten around to making your appointment yet, now is the time,” Scott said. “Because we have a chance to get back to normal faster and it has never been easier to get vaccinated.”
Other governors have announced lotteries — and those programs appear to be working, White House senior Covid-19 adviser Andy Slavitt said Friday.
“I think the reason they work is because the vast number of people who are not yet vaccinated are actually not opposed to getting vaccinated, they’re just not prioritizing it very high,” Slavitt said. “So things that draw attention to it, like the lotteries… are — not surprisingly — very effective.”
Since its May 13 announcement, the campaign “helped drive an increase in vaccination rates among Ohioans 16 and older by more than 28 percent,” Ohio’s health department said in a news release.
Prior to the announcement, vaccinations in residents 16 and older had seen a decrease, the department said.
CNN’s Virginia Langmaid, Rebekah Riess, Melissa Alonso and Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.