We may be hitting a 'vaccine hesistancy' wall as second doses outpaced first doses in the last 10 days

For the last 10 of 11 days, the number of people who have been fully vaccinated has risen higher than the number of people with "at least one dose." Experts say major challenges, including vaccine hesitancy, are preventing getting more shots into arms.


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Fewer new people are getting their first COVID-19 shot than those finishing up their second, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the last 10 of 11 days, the number of "fully vaccinated" people has risen more than the number of people with "at least one dose" — suggesting that second doses are outpacing first doses when it comes to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

This is the second time the U.S. has seen this happen since the beginning of the vaccine rollout. The first time was in February, when severe weather caused delays in vaccine shipments around the country.

Experts told CNN the reason for the trend is not immediately clear, but it could be a reflection of slowing demand.

"I think this is really just hitting the hesitancy wall," said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Murray said he expects "we will really start to run out of people willing to be vaccinated for the first time" within the next couple of weeks.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots.

While the shift began during a pause of the Johnson & Johnson rollout, this single-dose vaccine would be expected to raise both numbers by the same amount. Data published by the CDC may be delayed, and doses may not have been given on the day reported.

Experts say the U.S. is facing some major challenges when it comes to getting more shots into arms, including vaccine hesitancy.

While the country is still nowhere near widespread levels of protection, some areas have already begun to see a slowing demand for vaccines. By next month, vaccine enthusiasm will likely reach a "tipping point" and efforts to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations will become much harder, a recent report found.

Many Americans who haven't started their vaccinations yet "are still not sure that they want to take part in this amazing opportunity to put this virus behind us," National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins recently told CNN.

What a gradual return to normal will look like

Experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci estimate between 70% to 85% of the country needs to be immune to the virus — either through previous infection or from vaccination — to suppress its spread.

But even before hitting those percentages, the country will reach a point where Covid-19 cases will begin going down dramatically as more people get vaccinated, Fauci said.

But it's not there yet.

"Right now, we're averaging about 60,000 cases per day," Fauci told CNN on Sunday. "As we get lower and lower and lower, you're going to be seeing a gradual diminution of the restrictions and a more progressive moving towards normality."

It will be a gradual return to normal, as Americans can begin enjoying outdoor activities, travel, sporting events, theaters and restaurants "little by little," Fauci said.

The country's seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases is going down, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky reported last week. And there's a big reason why the decline could stick this time, said former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

"The past trends, when we saw cases start to decline, we were somewhat skeptical because we knew a lot of those declines were a result of behavioral changes, people pulling back more, taking more precautions and then as soon as we sort of let our guard down, we saw cases surge again," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"Right now, the declines that we're seeing we can take to the bank," Gottlieb added. "I think we could feel more assured because they're being driven by vaccinations and greater levels of population-wide immunity — not just from vaccination but also from prior infection."

Some Americans are missing their second shots

As more shots are making it into arms, a growing number of Americans seem to be missing their scheduled second dose, according to data from the CDC.

About 3.4% had missed that second appointment back in March. About 8% of Americans have missed it now, the data show.

But it's not an exact count.

If a person got their two COVID-19 vaccine doses from different reporting entities — for example, first from a state-run clinic and then from a local health clinic — the two doses may not have been linked, a CDC spokeswoman said.