CDC expected to loosen COVID-19 guidelines as vaccination rates drop across US

CDC expected to loosen COVID guidelines as vaccination rates drop across U.S

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The CDC is expected to loosen some guidelines for vaccinated Americans this week. The plans being made while uptake in the vaccine are falling rapidly across the country.

Last week more than 14,000 vaccinations were administered in Shelby County. That’s just a fraction of the 60,000 we had available, and about 10,000 less than last week.

There’s a likelihood CDC guidelines could change for mask-wearing outside as doctors say it’s a sign of the freedom the vaccines can bring.

Vaccine hesitancy remains as demand for shots drops

“We have regionally and nationally way oversold masks during outdoor activities,” Baptist Memorial Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Steve Threlkeld said.

Doctors have said the data shows very little transmission happening outdoors.

“There’s no better ventilation than being outdoors with swirling wind at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium or out on a jog,” Dr. Threlkeld said.

The region and country are still well under herd immunity.

More than 305,000 people have been vaccinated in Shelby County which is about 40 percent of the eligible population.

The CDC says less than 45 percent of Americans have at least one dose and 28 percent are fully vaccinated.

The Investigators: Where are Tennessee's vaccine doses?

While many northern states are in the middle of a fourth wave which is overwhelming hospitals, Dr. Threlkeld said he’s seeing fewer people hospitalized for COVID-19, but those who are in the hospital are younger and mainly unvaccinated people.

“I think we have to begin to nuance the message a little bit that these vaccines are the way out to a normal life,” Dr. Threlkeld said.

Shelby County public health officials are still seeing cases rise.

The rolling 14-day daily case count is up to 158 cases a day which is about 50 more than the previous 14-day average.

A majority of the public vaccination sites have opportunities to go without appointments all week.

Currently, all the sites are offering Pfizer.

You can see a full schedule here.

A new NBC News poll shows one in five people are hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Some became hesitant after the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine was temporarily pulled from use while federal health regulators investigated a small amount of recipients getting a rare blood clot as a side effect.

However, on Friday, that pause was lifted after those regulators found the vaccine to be safe and effective.

Health experts concerned about vaccination slowdown

In all, 15 people reported the blood clot of 8 million recipients.

Shelby County had about 17,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine before the FDA and CDC put a temporary pause on it.

The chances for the side effect are highest in women between 18 and 50, but still, those chances are about 2 in a million.

“The benefits far outweighed the blood clots associated with the vaccine,” Methodist LeBonheur Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Shrin Mazumder said.

“I understand the hesitancy. I’ve taken the Johnson and Johnson vaccine myself and so have 7 million people across the country and it’s been safe for them,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said.

Strickland hopes getting the single-dose vaccine back on the market will increase demand.

He said he eventually expected the supply of vaccines to outweigh the demand, but never expected it this early.

“I don’t know exactly what’s happening,” Mayor Strickland said. “I don’t think all the rest of the people are saying no we won’t get it. I think the vast majority of them will be open to taking it we just have to cross that bridge.”

A plan for the administration of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in Shelby County will likely be released Tuesday.

“They’ll be out in the Memphis market for whoever wants to take it,” Mayor Strickland said.

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