The nation’s top health officials highlighted reasons for Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible in a briefing Friday, specifically calling on young people to get the shot.
Americans ages 18 to 29 represent the sector of the population least likely to be vaccinated so far and the most hesitant of any age group, according to Kaiser Family Foundation polling.
On Friday, officials urged young people to both get vaccinated and carry the message of the importance of getting the shot, explaining how they could be transmitters of COVID-19 even if they aren’t as at risk of getting a severe case of the virus themselves.
“I believe strongly that young people are not just interested in staying healthy themselves, but they are the leaders in building a better future, and we are going to need them to step up to help spread this message,” said Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
About 20% of 18 to 29 year-olds and one-third of 30 to 39 year-olds are fully vaccinated, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday, compared to more than 70% of those over the age of 65.
Dr. Walensky used her own college-age sons as examples of why young people would want to get the shot.
“My older two, 19 and 21, really wanted to get vaccinated. They did so having lost much of their college experience this past year,” she said. “And I rest easy knowing my family will be safe, and that is simply the best Mother’s Day gift I could get this year.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, also pointed to the benefits of getting the majority of the population vaccinated, using the example of Israel and its “turning point” that led to a decline in cases earlier this year.
“When they were fully reopened, with a substantial proportion of their population vaccinated — the way we want to be — they went down to practically no cases,” Fauci said.
He referenced a study published this week in The Lancet, which found the Pfizer vaccine to be 95% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in a real world context. The study looked at Israel during a period from January to April, showing how daily case rates dipped below 1,000 in late March as the vaccine became more widespread.
“Let’s go for the 70% of adults vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4,” Fauci said, pointing to President Biden’s new goal, announced earlier this week. “And I’m confident that we can mimic the pattern that I’ve just showed you.”
As of Friday afternoon, 57% of the U.S. adult population had gotten at least one dose, and nearly 33% of the entire country had been fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.