Mandy Cohen, the Director of the CDC, is traveling across the country to advocate for vaccination.
By Chelsea Cirruzzo
Reached a peak of only 17 percent of the total U.S. population.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Mandy Cohen, approximately 12 million individuals, which is equivalent to 3.6 percent of the population, have received the vaccine in the past five weeks since it became available in pharmacies. However, due to delays in reporting, the actual number may be slightly higher.
According to Cohen, a significantly greater number of individuals, specifically 16 million, have received their yearly flu shot. This disparity is due to the fact that many people have established a habit of getting the vaccine regularly.
Cohen is currently on a nationwide tour to promote vaccinations for the elderly, who are at the highest risk for Covid, as well as communities that may not have easy access to healthcare services.
She is also having discussions with politicians at Capitol Hill, including members of the House who have expressed concerns about the agency. This is part of her attempts to regain confidence in the CDC.
On Tuesday, she discussed her presentation in an interview with POLITICO.
The interview has been modified to make it shorter and easier to understand.
The number of vaccinations appears to be very low – can you provide an explanation?
What I would say about that number is, just like the process, it’s different [now that insurers are paying for the vaccine rather than the federal government.]
Our level of visibility differs. If you don’t purchase and distribute, you also won’t receive real-time updates on vaccinated individuals. The number reported is only provided voluntarily by our pharmacy partners.
Can distribution be a challenge?
This marks the initial instance of the private sector taking on this task. I believe they have gained some insights regarding delivery and need.
After the initial weeks, the situation has greatly improved and there are now a sufficient number of appointments and supplies available.
Did you anticipate 12 million at this stage?
I believe we’re making good progress. Would I like to see further improvement? Absolutely, as the CDC director, it’s my responsibility to strive for more.
What is the objective?
I hope to see a high number of individuals receiving vaccinations. It’s a priority for me to ensure that our senior citizens, aged 65 and older, are also included in the vaccination effort.
Did 17 percent of the population receive last year’s booster? Are you projected to reach that same percentage?
I aim to increase that figure. I believe we all share this goal, and I consider it a reasonable benchmark.
What is the difference in uptake compared to the flu?
The influenza vaccinations have been in existence for a significantly longer period of time, and individuals have incorporated it into their regular routine. Therefore, the number of people getting the flu shot is higher compared to the past Covid booster shots.
The Covid vaccine is a recent development, thus it remains to be seen if this impacts people’s decisions. It is administered simultaneously with the flu vaccine, so it will be interesting to observe any changes in public perception and acceptance.
I believe that developing these types of habits and altering behavior does require time.
The majority of individuals received the initial Covid vaccinations. Why do most individuals not desire this particular one?
Many people believe they are already protected because they have received the original version of the vaccine or have previously had Covid.
I am attempting to assist them in comprehending two crucial pieces of information: Firstly, the virus has undergone changes. Secondly, the updated vaccine is designed to target these alterations. Additionally, data shows that protection from previous vaccination or prior Covid infection decreases over time.
Were individuals informed that they had received complete vaccination after receiving the first doses? Was this an error?
We haven’t used that term in a while. I am confused by it.
Previously, we used the term ‘fully vaccinated’ to clarify that individuals had completed the required series of vaccinations. This was appropriate at the time. However, what does being fully vaccinated entail for us currently? It involves receiving the latest version of the Covid vaccine.
What activities are you engaged in while on tour and what sounds are you encountering?
Our visits have been to areas where we are aware of a higher concentration of at-risk individuals who require vaccination. Yesterday, I visited a nursing home in the Philadelphia region. It is our top priority to ensure that older Americans receive the necessary vaccinations.
I recently visited Miami and we stopped by a CVS ymas, a store that caters to the Latino community. This is another crucial demographic to prioritize for vaccination.
The response has been quite positive.
We are aiming to spread the message and connect with the individuals responsible for the challenging task of administering vaccinations. We acknowledge their dedication and understand that they must continue their efforts.
Have you made any progress with Republicans during your meetings on Capitol Hill?
I believe the initial step in establishing trust is by being present and attentive, and that is exactly what I have been doing.