Dr. Fauci Says You'll Easily Get a Vaccine Appointment After This Date
The coveted bookings will be easier to come by thanks to lower demand, even with increased access.
In a rare bit of good news from the pandemic, it appears that efforts to speed up vaccinations across the U.S. are working. Still, with about 10 percent of the national population having received at least one dose, many who are eligible for the shots are struggling to access them due to limited supplies and scheduling issues. But experts like Anthony Fauci, MD, point out that we'll soon be moving into a new phase of the rollout where you'll easily be able to get a COVID vaccine appointment, likely by early spring. Read on to see why Fauci and others are optimistic about booking your shots in the near future, and for more on where you might be able to schedule an appointment near you, check out If You Live in These States, You Can Now Get Vaccinated at Walmart.
Fauci believes "open season" for vaccines will arrive in April.
During an appearance on NBC's Today on Feb. 11, Fauci told host Savannah Guthrie that it may only be a matter of weeks before vaccines become widely available to the entire population. "We have those priorities [groups], 1a, 1b, 1c…If you look at the projection, I would imagine that by the time we get to April, that will be what I would call, for better wording, 'open season,' [meaning] virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated," he predicted.
Fauci's optimism carried on to his estimation that the following season would see even more success in immunizations. "From then on, it would likely take several more months just logistically to get [the] vaccine into people's arms so that hopefully, as we get into the middle and end of the summer, we can have accomplished the goal of what we're talking about, [which is] namely the overwhelming majority of people in this country having gotten vaccinated," he added. And for the only things that could get in the way of that, check out Dr. Fauci Says These 3 Things Could Prevent Us From Returning to Normal.
The former FDA commissioner also believes vaccines will be available to everybody "sooner than we think."
Fauci is not alone in his forecast on the imminent increased availability of vaccinations. While appearing on CNBC's Squawk Box on Feb. 8, Scott Gottlieb, MD, former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), explained that early spring would likely see a broadening of COVID vaccine eligibility, brought on mostly by a drop-off in the number of Americans in the priority groups who are seeking the shots.
"I suspect that [at] some point in March and certainly by the end of March, we're going to have to make this generally available," Gottlieb predicted. "That doesn't mean everyone can go and get a vaccine on April 1, but I think everyone is going to be able to go online and get an appointment sooner than we think." And for more on how you can prepare for your jabs, check out If You Take These OTC Meds, You Have to Stop Before Getting the Vaccine.
States will also begin to open up eligibility criteria by next month.
Gottlieb went on to explain that through the rest of the winter, most states will remain in their earliest phases of the rollout with only high-risk members of the population able to get vaccinated. But he also predicted that the number of people in such groups was likely to start thinning out in the coming weeks, leaving room for states to cast a wider net in the spring.
"At some point in March, states are going to have to make decisions about how to open this up more widely," Gottlieb said. "If we continue to ration it based on more and more narrow slices of the population, it's going to get harder to administer, so I think we're just going to have to open this up to general availability, which is good news." And for more COVID news sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Distribution is already expanding.
Gottlieb warned that the real challenge of vaccinating enough of the population to achieve herd immunity won't actually lie in supply constraints, but rather in convincing those who are less enthusiastic to get their doses. "I think demand here … is deep but not wide," Gottlieb cautioned. "There's probably about, maybe, 100 million Americans that want this very badly. Beyond that, we're going to have to work on it."
Fortunately, it appears that efforts are already being made to increase access and encourage those who are unsure about the vaccine to get their shots. This week, the White House announced that 1 million doses would be sent directly to 250 community centers nationwide beginning next week, eventually expanding to more than 1,300 centers. The move will speed up the process of administering doses to vulnerable communities by removing state and local governments from the distribution process.
"Community health centers are an important part of our broader strategy to ensure we are reaching everyone with our response," White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said at a Feb. 9 press briefing. "Today's announcement about utilizing the community health centers is part of a multi-pronged strategy to reach all Americans." And for more on what you could expect after you get immunized, check out Dr. Fauci Says He Had These Side Effects From His Second Vaccine Dose.