The daily average of COVID-19 cases on Aug. 15 was 130,808, which is about 64% higher than it was 14 days earlier, and the death count related to the virus was 662 on Aug. 15, up 113% from two weeks earlier, The New York Times reported in nationwide reports. Meanwhile, only about 50% of Americans are fully vaccinated.
Kristen McMullen was pregnant when she was hospitalized on July 21 after catching the virus and being diagnosed with pneumonia in Florida, NBC News reported. Even after being sent home, she returned to the hospital on July 26, delivered her daughter by C-section the next day, and was put on a ventilator. She died on Aug. 6, NBC News reported. “She never got sick, and we assumed like many people that this would just go away just as quickly as it came,” McMullen’s uncle James Syverson told the news network. “Because with a lot of younger people — she was only 30 years old — that she would breeze through it and be back taking charge of life.”
The Syversons wouldn’t tell NBC whether McMullen was vaccinated, and until recently pregnant women have been largely left to their own devices and the recommendations of their physicians to decide whether to get vaccinated or not. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encouraged pregnant women to get vaccinated against the virus in newly released guidance on Wednesday.
“This week we are taking two important steps in encouraging and improving vaccine protections for Americans,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a video statement last week. “First for pregnant people who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, we are strengthening our guidance and recommending that all pregnant people or people thinking about becoming pregnant get vaccinated.”
Walensky also signed the CDC’s recommendation endorsing the use of an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine “for people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems after an initial two-dose vaccine series,” on Friday. She said in her statement:
”This official CDC recommendation — which follows FDA’s decision to amend the emergency use authorizations of the vaccines — is an important step in ensuring everyone, including those most vulnerable to COVID-19, can get as much protection as possible from COVID-19 vaccination.
Emerging data suggest some people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity compared to people who are not immunocompromised. In addition, in small studiespdf icon, fully vaccinated immunocompromised people have accounted for a large proportion of hospitalized breakthrough cases (40-44%). Immunocompromised people who are infected with SARS CoV-2 are also more likely to transmit the viruspdf icon to household contacts.
While people who are immunocompromised make up about 3% of the U.S. adult population, they are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are more at risk of serious, prolonged illness. Included in CDC’s recommendation are people with a range of conditions, such as recipients of organ or stem cell transplants, people with advanced or untreated HIV infection, active recipients of treatment for cancer, people who are taking some medications that weaken the immune system, and others. A full list of conditions can be found on CDC’s website. The additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should be the same vaccine as the initial series and administered at least four weeks after completing a primary mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series. While vaccination is likely to increase protection in this population, even after vaccination, people who are immunocompromised should continue follow current prevention measures (including wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others they do not live with, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces) to protect themselves and those around them against COVID-19 until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider. CDC does not recommend additional doses or booster shots for any other population at this time.
At a time when the Delta variant is surging, an additional vaccine dose for some people with weakened immune systems could help prevent serious and possibly life-threatening COVID-19 cases within this population.”
While some health and government officials spread the recommendation that those with weakened immune systems seek a third shot, they still have an uphill battle in convincing the general population to get their first doses of the vaccine. Louisiana Gov. Edwards has repeatedly urged his constituents to get vaccinated and start wearing masks. “Today, I am reinstating Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate indoors for all people ages 5 & up as COVID-19 cases & hospitalizations continue to rise across Louisiana, threatening the ability of hospitals to deliver care,” the governor announced on Aug. 2.
In response, protesters like those in St. Tammany Parish, which reported the fifth highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state, have criticized local and state officials. Jonathan Koeppel, a former teacher in the parish who was fired for refusing to wear a mask, said according to Nola.com: “People are literally stealing our freedoms and they’re doing it in the name of public safety.” State Rep. Danny McCormick bragged about driving five hours to join protesters in rallying for their right to die and kill others. “Liberty is the opposite of discrimination,” he said.