Vaccination Rates Increase

Abi Zajac, Opinion Editor

COVID-19 rates have been dropping at a dizzying rate with a seven-day average of 64,722 cases, similar to numbers in July 2020, according to the New York Times.

These low numbers can be attributed to the increased vaccine rollout, with 2.2 million shots administered each day, according to NPR.

Madison County mirrors this downward trend with a walk-in clinic set up at the Gateway Center in Collinsville, a drive-thru clinic at the Belleville Fairground and local Walgreens’ also distributing vaccines.

Mass vaccination is coming sooner than many expected with President Biden’s new promise to vaccinate “every adult in America by the end of May,” according to the Washington Post.

Approval of the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine is expected to make his promise even more feasible, not only because it will increase the number of shots available to people, but also the single-dose formula makes it easier to reach people. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine can be stored at warmer temperatures than Moderna and Pfizer, making transportation easier, but full immunity takes a month to develop, according to NPR and Wall Street Journal.

“We’re on a path — we need to make sure that we do not let down our guard,” said Jeff Zient, White House COVID-19 response coordinator. “People do need to meet the president’s challenge of masking up. People do need to take the vaccine when it’s their turn. We need to stay on this path and beat this pandemic.”

Madison County has not yet passed the phases of essential workers to move onto the general population. According to Madison County’s website, only 6.06% of the population has received the second dose of their vaccine as of March 8.

A combination of low case rates and high vaccination rates could pave the road to normalcy for Madison County which is in phase 1b of vaccination and has a seven-day positivity rate of only 4.38% coupled with zero deaths.

Despite what looks like an end in sight, Anthony Fauci warns that these steps forward could be reversed by lax restrictions.

“We do want to come back carefully and slowly,” Fauci said on the CBS News’ “Face the Nation” program. “But don’t turn the switch on and off because it really would be risky to have yet again another surge.”