Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said he is “deeply concerned” about unvaccinated people, including children, as some communities are seeing rising Covid-19 rates.
During a Sunday appearance on ABC’s This Week, Murthy first praised the progress the country has made in vaccinating millions of Americans. He also warned that we will see some breakthrough infections among vaccinated people, but that is expected and does not mean vaccines are not working.
“Keep in mind: we vaccinated millions and millions of people in the United States,” Murthy told host Martha Raddatz. “We have, in fact, more than 160 million people who are fully vaccinated right now. So, you will see numbers, a minority, a small minority of people who do have breakthrough infections.”
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“But here’s the other thing to know,” Murthy added, “When you’re fully vaccinated, even if you do have a breakthrough infection, it’s much more likely that infection will be either asymptomatic or mild. And that’s really good news that continues to tell us that these vaccines are highly effective, and that’s one of the reasons we are recommending them for people across the country.”
Murthy then turned his attention to children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, leaving them vulnerable to the virus. Currently, trials are underway assessing the vaccine’s effectiveness for that age group, and results are anticipated to be available in the fall. One FDA official told NBC News last week that the agency may approve the vaccine for children sometime in the middle of winter if the trials go well.
“I want to focus on the kids for a moment here because this is such an important point we don’t talk about enough,” Murthy said. “For our children under 12—and I say that as a dad who’s got two kids who are four and three and who don’t have a vaccine available to them yet—our kids depend on us, the people around them being protected, being vaccinated in order to shield them from the virus. And that’s why, again, it’s so important for us to get vaccinated.”
But the government is fighting an uphill battle to convince Americans they should get fully vaccinated as health misinformation spreads across social media platforms at alarming rates. Last week, Murthy declared health misinformation to be an “urgent threat.”
“I’ve been deeply concerned about the flow of misinformation across technology platforms and throughout society over the last many months,” Murthy told Raddatz.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also spoke about the dangers of misinformation over the weekend, saying that if health misinformation were as common in the era of polio as it is today, we would have never eradicated the deadly disease.
“We probably would still have polio in this country if we had the kind of false information that’s being spread now,” Fauci told Jim Acosta on CNN. “If we had that back decades ago, I would be certain that we’d still have polio in this country.”
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