COVID vaccination progress: Only 1 in 5 say they won’t get a jab; White House says pace of shots accelerating. Latest updates.

COVID vaccination progress: Only 1 in 5 say they won’t get a jab; White House says pace of shots accelerating. Latest updates.

Amid surging COVID-19 cases and a slew of new vaccine requirements following the Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer shot, vaccinations are increasing in the U.S., and polling suggests opposition is dropping.

The latest Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, released Tuesday, finds only one in five Americans say they’re not likely to get vaccinated, the lowest level since the start of the index. The percentage of Americans who stand in hard opposition to getting the vaccine has also dropped to its lowest reported levels at 14% of U.S. adults.

The changes are particularly noteworthy among parents: 68% now say they’re likely to get their children vaccinated and 31% oppose vaccinating their children.

“With more than 45 million children under 12 – who are not yet eligible for the vaccine – this change suggests that once the vaccine is approved for younger kids, there may be a significant surge in the vaccination rate,” according to the poll.

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The U.S. is averaging 900,000 vaccinations per day, up from 500,000 per day in mid-July, Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, said in a press conference Tuesday. The pace of first shots is accelerating, too: The U.S. administered more than 14 million first shots in August – almost 4 million more first shots than in July, he said.

Over 800 colleges and universities, more than 200 health care employers and dozens of states, local governments and school districts have implemented vaccination requirements, Zients said.

“These requirement are already working to get more people vaccinated,” Zients said.

Also in the news:

►Mask use also continues to increase, according to the index: 69% now report using a mask some or all the time when leaving home, up from 52% in the July 20 report. Most Americans, 70%, now support mask requirements in schools and 66% support such requirements in public spaces, according to the latest poll. Of working Americans, 57% say they would support vaccine requirements by their employer.

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►A New Jersey woman calling herself the “AntiVaxMomma” on Instagram sold several hundred fake COVID-19 vaccination cards at $200 a pop to New York City-area jab dodgers, including people working in hospitals and nursing homes, prosecutors said Tuesday.

►Kiss frontman Paul Stanley tested positive Thursday, forcing the band to postpone a string of shows over subsequent days. On Tuesday, the band announced that bassist Gene Simmons, too, has tested positive for COVID-19.

►Google is once again postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-January, in addition to requiring all employees to be vaccinated once its sprawling campuses are fully reopened.

►Employees at Colorado health care facilities, including assisted living homes, nursing homes and hospitals, will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of October under a temporary emergency rule by the state board of health.

►Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced Monday that the city will join others including New York, San Francisco and New Orleans in requiring proof of vaccination for entry to restaurants, gyms and other public spaces. The policy, called Safe Access Oahu, will take effect Sept. 13.

►The booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine is highly effective against COVID-19 infection and severe symptoms, according to Israeli researchers. The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, found a third dose of the vaccine was associated with at least a 10-fold reduction in the risk of severe illness.

►Seventy percent of adults in the European Union have been fully vaccinated, EU chief Ursula Von der Leyen said in a video statement, adding that this means 250 million people in the EU have been fully vaccinated.

►Just a week after classes began, Liberty University in Virginia pivoted to virtual classes beginning Monday, joining other schools such as Duke University and Rice University that have shifted reopening plans amid surging cases.

►City employees in Portland, Oregon, must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus – or obtain a medical or religious exemption – by the middle of October or they will be fired.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 39.1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 639,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 217.4 million cases and 4.5 million deaths. More than 173.8 million Americans – 52.4% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: Can Americans visit Europe this fall after E.U. decision? It’s complicated. What travelers need to know.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Pennsylvania mandates masks in all K-12 schools
Masks will be required in all Pennsylvania K-12 schools, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday, reversing course amid a statewide COVID-19 resurgence that is filling hospital beds just as students return to class.

The Department of Health order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7 — the day after Labor Day — and will require students, teachers and staff to wear masks when inside.

The governor said during a press conference that the “aggressive” delta variant has “changed everything,” with cases of the contagious strain rising across the country and commonwealth over the past two months.

– Ashley R. Williams, Bucks County Courier Times

What’s the C.1.2 variant? Americans shouldn’t panic, experts say
International health agencies don’t list it as a “variant of concern.” It’s not even a “variant of interest.” Still, as the the pandemic continues, scientists are keeping a close eye on mutations of the original coronavirus that might turn more dangerous.

The latest one garnering attention is the C.1.2 variant, following the release last week of a pre-print study – not yet peer-reviewed – that highlighted mutations seen in other variants of concern.

Researchers in South Africa flagged the variant for international agencies to monitor, but health experts say the C.1.2 variant poses no real threat right now – especially compared to the highly contagious delta variant.

“I wouldn’t lose any sleep over C.1.2 at this time,” said Dr. Daniel Rhoads, section head of microbiology at the Cleveland Clinic. “Delta is a real problem right now, so that’s much more concerning to me.” Read more here.

– Adrianna Rodriguez

Fauci: ‘Extremely important’ for pregnant people to get vaccinated
COVID-19 in pregnancy is “serious,” and it’s “extremely important” for pregnant people and people planning to become pregnant to get vaccinated, the nation’s top infectious disease expert said Tuesday.

“There are severe adverse outcomes for mother and baby during COVID-19 infection,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a press briefing.

Nearly 110,000 cases of COVID-19 were reported in pregnant people from Jan. 22, 2020 to Aug. 23, 2021, according to the CDC. Of those, nearly 19,000 were hospitalized, and 131 have died.

“COVID-19 in pregnancy is serious,” he said. “The bottom line, get vaccinated.”

Ida victims could swamp Louisiana hospitals
Experts worry Hurricane Ida will worsen the spread of COVID-19 in the state’s low-lying parishes, where vaccination rates are low – in some only about a third of the population – and cases have surged to all-time highs.

Hospitals in the path of Ida were forced to evacuate dozens of patients after the storm tore off pieces of roofs, caused water leaks and partially flooded some areas. Some hospitals were relying on emergency generators for electricity as millions across the state lost power after the storm hit the coast as a Category 4 hurricane.

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