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Missouri has not been vaccinated fast enough to control the virus by summer. “We need speed,” says doctors | National

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ST. Louis-Missouri has not vaccinated its population fast enough to reach widespread immunity by this summer, health officials in major regions said. Even if the vaccination rate triples, it is not clear that we want to get enough Mizurians to significantly delay the pandemic.

Vaccines are expected to mitigate the infection rate in Missouri. However, experts generally say that the virus will spread in smaller numbers over the next few years.

Dr. Stephen Lawrence, an infectious disease expert at the University of Washington, said the vaccine deployment was a remarkable achievement. Still, he said it couldn’t come fast enough.

“I need more,” he said. “We need speed. We need as much as we can to really end the pandemic.”

The arrival of multiple COVID-19 vaccines over a month ago promised to return to normal. Deployment will take months, officials say, but most Americans will have vaccinations available by July, after which the economy will fully resume and restaurants, shops and offices will fill up. .. However, vaccination is slower than expected, and even if the state extends vaccination beyond health care workers, they are still complaining that there is not enough dose.

The urgency is clear. Prolonged pandemics mean more infections, more hospitalizations, and more deaths.

Not everyone sees the same path of the virus. Some experts say they do not have enough knowledge to make such predictions.

“We have only one year of experience with the virus,” said Dr. Stephen Liang, an associate professor at the University of Washington and an infectious disease and emergency physician at Burns Jewish Hospital. “I think it’s too early to say.”

Indeed, there are still many unknowns: how many doses will arrive in the coming months? Are they effective against newer, more infectious variants of the virus? And how many people need to be vaccinated?

Health officials are focusing on immunization of Mizurians, called “herd immunity,” which is sufficient to reduce the chances of the virus spreading. According to the World Health Organization, in the case of measles, about 95% of the population needs to be vaccinated to achieve that. In the case of polio, about 80%.

For COVID-19, experts estimate this number to be 70% to 85%. For Missouri, with a population of 6.1 million, this means that 4.3 to 5.2 million people need to be vaccinated.

Missouri began vaccination with a large-scale COVID-19 vaccine in mid-December, focusing on hospital workers and elderly homes. Ten days ago, Governor Mike Parson announced that the state would begin a second phase of vaccination in anticipation of increased shipments of COVID-19 vaccine. This is about 3 million public health personnel, first responders, first aid personnel, then 65 inhabitants and older, or certain health conditions.

However, it soon became apparent that the state would not be vaccinated as much as expected, at least soon.

The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday that only 205,000 Mizurians received the first dose of the vaccine, or about 3% of the population.

The pace of vaccination will almost certainly accelerate.

More vaccines may be available — one company, Johnson & Johnson, aims to apply for an emergency use authorization in the United States in February.

And Mr Parson said Wednesday that he was activating the National Guard to support the National Guard mass vaccination center.

Some Mizurians may be temporarily protected. 446,000 people, or about 7% of the state’s population, tested positive for active COVID-19 infections during the pandemic process. The actual number can be doubled, as many are asymptomatic or untested, said Dr. Clay Dunagan, Chief Clinical Officer at BJC HealthCare.

Some computer models estimate that the actual number of infected Mizurians is even higher.

Nonetheless, Dunagan predicted that vaccination of 5 million residents by the end of June would require 25,000 to 30,000 vaccinations per day. According to the state, Missouri has averaged about 11,000 people per day over the past week.

Dr. Alex Garza, Chief Community Health Officer of SSM Health and Incident Commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, is also vaccinated 30,000 times daily in Missouri to vaccinate citizens by early July. ..

At this point, the number seems unrealistic, he said.

In the St. Louis region alone, Dunagan said he probably needs to target an average of 10,000 vaccinations per day. And it does not even include a second dose.

But even if the state’s supply of vaccine doses doubles and public and private health agencies implement vaccinations quickly, the results depend on the willingness of the Mizurians to accept vaccinations in turn. There is a possibility.

And it’s unclear if they will.

A survey of 800 adults in Missouri shows that only 58% are likely to be vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available, and 20% will never be vaccinated. .. The survey, published by the Missouri Hospital Association, was conducted in the first week of January.

Also, the vaccine was not approved for children because the initial clinical trial did not include the vaccine (although pharmaceutical companies plan to study the vaccine in younger populations in the future). This means that certain parts of the population are still vulnerable.

“Hopefully, we can vaccinate enough people and protect the most vulnerable,” Garza said. “So it’s something that’s not as difficult to manage as it is now.”

This summer, the people of St. Louis may be able to meet again for dinner, concerts and outings. Vaccination should have gained momentum by then. Perhaps the mask will be less important. Still, outbreaks of infectious diseases will continue on roller coasters for the next few years.

But the end of the virus? Do you know.

“I know people want a day when the announcement is’OK, the problem is over, everyone can come back to life as usual,'” Dunagan said.

That won’t happen, experts agree. In the coming months, push-and-pull will occur between the relaxation of restrictions and the increase in cases.

Dr. Elvin Gen, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Washington, said COVID-19 would never be “completely gone.”

He said the number of cases would decrease. However, sporadic outbreaks will continue even after the majority of the population has been vaccinated.

“Now … we’re like drowning,” Gen said. “On the other hand, in a few months we should be in a position to stay dry.”

Lawrence, an infectious disease expert at the University of Washington, said COVID-19 would never be completely gone.

“It’s very likely that it’s going to be the seasonal thing we see every year. The goal is not to cause an outbreak that could shut down the healthcare system altogether,” Lawrence said. Stated.

For now, don’t put away your mask.

Lawrence said that Mizurians should continue to wear masks after vaccination for three reasons. The effectiveness of the vaccine is about 95%, but not 100%. It is unclear whether the vaccine can prevent asymptomatic infections. And in fact, if vaccinated people are exempted, it will be impossible to enforce public health guidelines.

“We really need to understand that masking, distance, and collection mitigation only occur after a persistent decline and very low levels of communication in the community,” Lawrence said. Stated. “Not before that.”

(C) 2021 St. Louis Post Dispatch

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.

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