Confronting the Delta Variant of SARS-CoV-2, Summer 2021

JAMA. Published online August 18, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.14811

Availability of safe and highly effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccines increased the possibility of durable control of COVID-19 both in the US and worldwide. After initial challenges in vaccine supply and delivery, there was substantial progress in vaccinating US residents. The arrival of spring 2021 and increasing vaccination rates, particularly among individuals at high risk for severe infection and complications, was followed by a steady decline in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

As of August 16, 2021, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 168.7 million people have been fully vaccinated in the US, which represents 50.8% of the population and 59.4% of the vaccine-eligible population.1 However, there are large variations in vaccination rates by state, with a high of 76.9% in Vermont to a low of 44% in Alabama. Moreover, immunization rates have plateaued, largely due to a lack of focus on the various behavioral aspects of vaccine uptake, especially a new vaccine that would need to be given to virtually every eligible person in the US.

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