WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the United States have received at least one COVID-19 shot, the government announced Sunday, marking another milestone in the nation’s largest-ever vaccination campaign but leaving more work to do to persuade skeptical Americans to roll up their sleeves.
Almost 130 million people 18 or older have received at least one dose of a vaccine, or 50.4 percent of the total adult population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Almost 84 million adults, or about 32.5 percent of the population, have been fully vaccinated.
The US inoculation drive has pushed ahead despite a major setback Tuesday when federal health agencies recommended putting injections of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on pause while they investigated whether it was linked to a rare blood-clotting disorder.
On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, said a decision about whether to resume administering the J&J vaccine should come Friday, when an expert panel that is advising the CDC is scheduled to meet.
“I think by that time we’re going to have a decision,” Fauci said Sunday on the CNN program “State of the Union.”
“I don’t want to get ahead of the CDC and the FDA and the advisory committee,” he added, but said he expected experts to recommend “some sort of either warning or restriction” on the use of the vaccine.
All 50 states, in addition to Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have stopped administering the vaccine.
The United States cleared the 50 percent vaccination mark just a day after the reported global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering 3 million, according to totals compiled by Johns Hopkins University, though the actual number is believed to be significantly higher.
The country’s vaccination rate, at 61.6 doses administered per 100 people, currently falls behind Israel, which leads among countries with at least 5 million people with a rate of 119.2. The United States also trails the United Arab Emirates, Chile, and the United Kingdom, which is vaccinating at a rate of 62 doses per 100 people, according to Our World in Data, an online research site.
The vaccine campaign offered hope in places like Nashville, where the Music City Center bustled Sunday with vaccine seekers. High demand for appointment-only shots at the convention center has leveled off enough that walk-ins will be welcome starting this week.
Amanda Grimsley, who received her second shot, said she’s ready to see her 96-year-old grandmother, who lives in Alabama and has been nervous about getting the vaccine after having a bad reaction to a flu shot.
“It’s a little emotional. I haven’t been able to see my grandmother in a year and a half almost,” said Grimsley, 35. “And that’s the longest my entire family has ever gone without seeing her. And we’ ll be seeing her in uCORONAVIRUS Continued from Page A1 mid-May now.”
The states with the highest vaccination rates have a history of voting Democratic and supporting President Biden in the 2020 election: New Hampshire at the top, with 71.1 percent, followed by New Mexico, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine, CDC data show.
The demand has not been the same in many areas of Tennessee — particularly, rural ones.
Tennessee sits in the bottom four states for rates of adults getting at least one shot, at 40.8 percent. It’s trailed only by Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi — three other Southern states that lean Republican and voted for Donald Trump last fall.
Vaccination rates do not always align with how states vote. But polling from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has shown trends that link political leanings and attitudes about the vaccines and other issues related to the pandemic, which has killed more than 566,000 people in the United States.
A poll conducted in late March found that 36 percent of Republicans said they will probably or definitely not get vaccinated, compared with 12 percent of Democrats. Similarly, a third of rural Americans said they were leaning against getting shots, while fewer than a fourth of people living in cities and suburbs shared that hesitancy.
Overall, willingness to get vaccinated has risen, polling shows. In January, 67 percent of adult Americans were willing to get vaccinated or had already received at least one shot. The figure has climbed to 75 percent, according to an AP-NORC poll.
Nationwide, 24 percent of Black Americans and 22 percent of Hispanic Americans say they will probably or definitely not get vaccinated, down from 41 percent and 34 percent in January, respectively. Among white Americans, 26 percent now say they will not get vaccinated. In January, that number was 31 percent.
Fauci said the goal is to get community figures, from athletes to clergy, to encourage vaccinations, particularly as the seven-day national average of cases remains over 60,000 new infections per day.
“What we are doing is we’re trying to get, by a community core, trusted messages that anyone would feel comfortable with listening to, whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, an independent or whomever you are, that you’re comfortable,” Fauci said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
In a series of news show interviews, Fauci said he expects a decision when advisers to the CDC meet Friday to discuss the pause in J&J’s single-dose vaccine. “I would be very surprised if we don’t have a resumption in some form by Friday,” he said. ’'I don’t really anticipate that they’re going to want it stretch it out a bit longer.”
Fauci, who is President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said he believed federal regulators could bring the shots back with limits based on age or gender, or with a blanket warning about the rare blood clots, so the vaccine is administered in a way “a little bit different than we were before the pause.”
The unusual disorder includes blood clots in the brain combined with low levels of platelets, blood cells that typically promote clotting. The combination, which can cause clotting and bleeding at the same time, was initially documented in six women between the ages of 18 and 48 who had received the vaccine one to three weeks prior. One of the women died and another was hospitalized in critical condition.
This pattern has prompted questions about whether vaccinations could resume in men or in older people. But because women fill more of the health care jobs for which vaccinations have been prioritized, it is not clear how much the problem might affect men, too. On Wednesday, two more cases of the clotting disorder were identified, including one in a man who had received the vaccine in a clinical trial.
Of the 131.2 million people who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, more than 7 million have received Johnson & Johnson’s. If there is a link between the vaccine and the clotting disorder, the risk remains extremely low, experts say.
“It’s an extraordinarily rare event,” Fauci said on the ABC program “This Week.” The pause was intended to give experts time to gather more information and to warn physicians about the clotting disorder so that they can make more informed treatment decisions, said Fauci, who appeared on four TV news programs Sunday morning.
European regulators have been investigating similar cases of the unusual clotting disorder in people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine. Some European countries have halted that vaccine, while others have restricted its use.
Fauci also expressed frustration that “a disturbingly large proportion of Republicans,” who have been critical of many coronavirus restrictions, have expressed a reluctance to be vaccinated. “It’s almost paradoxical,” he said. “On the one hand they want to be relieved of the restrictions, but on the other hand, they don’t want to get vaccinated. It just almost doesn’t make any sense.”
The New York Times examined survey and vaccine administration data for nearly every US county and found that both willingness to receive a vaccine and actual vaccination rates to date were lower, on average, in counties where a majority of residents voted to reelect former president Donald Trump in 2020.
Fauci said that he expected all high school students to become eligible for vaccination before school begins in the fall, with younger children eligible no later than the first quarter of 2022.
Material from The New York Times and the Associated Press was used in this report.