The United States reached a new milestone in the fight against COVID-19 on Tuesday: 50 percent of adults are now fully vaccinated against the virus, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
White House COVID-19 adviser Andy Slavitt previewed the achievement during a COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday afternoon.
“This is a major milestone in our country’s vaccination efforts,” Slavitt said.
“Across the country, 25 states and the District of Columbia have fully vaccinated 50 percent or more of their adult population, and nine states have recently crossed the threshold of 70 percent of adults with at least one shot,” Slavitt said.
While 50 percent of adult Americans — more than 129 million people — are fully vaccinated, 61.6 percent of American adults have received at least one shot, according to CDC data.
In total, 39.5 percent of Americans over the age of 12 — more than 131 million people — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for emergency use in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15.
In Massachusetts, 61 percent of the state’s population 12 and older has received at least one COVID-19 shot, according to the most recent data released by the state’s Department of Public Health.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said during the briefing that COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country are continuing to decline.
The seven-day average of daily COVID-19 cases is 22,877, a decrease of 25 percent from the prior seven-day average and the seventh consecutive day with a seven-day average below 30,000 cases, Walensky said. The seven-day averages of hospital admissions and deaths have also declined.
“We are continuing to watch these data closely, and I remain cautious but hopeful they will continue to trend downward as vaccinations scale up.”
Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, Walensky said that those who have been vaccinated are protected from COVID-19 infection and can enjoy the holiday with friends and family.
“Thanks to vaccines, tens of millions of Americans are able to get back to something closer to normal, visiting friends and family,” Walensky said. “These are the events we missed over the last year and are now safe when we are vaccinated.”
Walensky said that those who are not vaccinated are at risk of infection, and need to wear masks and engage in other public health measures to protect against COVID-19.
“We are on a good downward path, but we are not quite out of the woods yet,” Walensky said. “Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are all declining because of the millions of people who have stepped forward and done their part to protect their health and the health of their communities to move us out of this pandemic.”
In response to a question from a reporter about whether she was worried about a spike in COVID-19 cases following Memorial Day weekend, Walensky said that while cases have increased in the past after holiday weekends, the country has never had this level of protection against the virus.
“We’ve never been in a position where we’ve had half the adults of America vaccinated and protected from this virus. Our guidance is very clear: if you are vaccinated, you are protected. And if you are unvaccinated, in the context of Memorial Day weekend, we’re really encouraging you to adhere to our guidance for people who are unvaccinated, and of course to get vaccinated.”