As of Sunday morning, the CDC reports 62.6% of adults are at least partially vaccinated, with President Biden's July 4th goal of 70% within reach five weeks away.
The US has seen improved COVID-19 metrics over the past few months, thanks in large part to a widespread vaccination effort. Saturday, May 29th marked the first time since March 2020 that the 7-day case average dropped below 20,000; at one point in January 2021, it topped 250,000.
"Of our patients that are being hospitalized, some of them are tending to be younger. So I think that's just what you're seeing in terms of people going out about their business, and didn't think they really needed to get vaccinated," said Dr. Michael Zappa, Chief of Emergency Services for Cape Fear Valley Health.
In North Carolina, 18-24 year old's make up 9.4% of the population, but just 6.5% of vaccinations, a gap health officials are working to address.
"We need to continue to get the word out there. I think if we can get people who relate to the various groups, whether it's the younger group or minorities or wherever we're having the harder time penetrating, we need to find peer spokespeople," said Dr. Zappa.
With most capacity limits and restrictions relaxed and travel increasing, Dr. Zappa is urging unvaccinated people to get their shots, and take precaution until they do so.
"If you've traveled and you're not vaccinated or you've been in big crowded situations, crowded bars where people are on top of each other, you should wait at least 10 days before going to visit elderly relatives. Take that 10-day period to make sure you're safe," said Dr. Zappa.
North Carolina has not performed as well as the national averages; as of Thursday, May 27th, NCDHHS reports 53.1% of adults are at least partially vaccinated. The week beginning May 17th marked the sixth straight week where the number of vaccinations declined in North Carolina, however it was the second straight week where the number of first doses had increased.
Reaching the 70% target will require a strong push over the next five weeks. A report this month from the Kaiser Family Foundation found just 4% of adults planned to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, though the percent of adults taking a wait-and-see approach dropped from 15% in April to 12% in May, a sign that some hesitancy may be wearing off. It also found that 13% of adults will "definitely not" get a vaccine, and 7% will only get a vaccine if required. The latter two figures are largely unchanged over the past several months.
Earlier this month, the FDA extended emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine for 12-15 year old's. Since then, NCDHHS reports the 12-17 year old age group has made up the largest share of vaccinations.