The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is predicting that Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths will fall over the next four weeks. The CDC ensemble forecasts conclude that there will be a total of 596,000 to 606,000 Covid-19 deaths by June 19.
Many states are offering incentives for people to get the vaccine. The latest is California, which is enticing residents with a whopping $116.5 million in freebies, touting it as the nation’s biggest vaccine incentive program.
But, although vaccinated adults can enjoy new freedoms, some officials are concerned about vaccine hesitancy and lagging vaccination rates among those eligible.
Children must be protected further
And those who are not eligible, which are children under the age of 12, need to be careful. The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that children aged 2 or older who are not fully vaccinated should wear a well-fitting face mask.
The updated guidance recommends children wear a mask at school, in child care programs, at camp, when playing with friends and playing indoor sports and outdoor sports with close contact. There are exceptions for sports where masks can be a hazard such as gymnastics.
Masks should be used outdoors if the child is in a large group setting, or when it is impossible to keep good physical distance from others, according to the AAP.
The AAP also recommended children wear one at home if they live with someone who is immunocompromised or at-risk for severe Covid-19.
“The COVID-19 vaccines are remarkably effective, but we must stay vigilant,” AAP President Dr. Lee Savio Beers said in a statement.
To help teens and adults who have moderate or worse cases of Covid-19, the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized the monoclonal antibody therapy sotrovimab for ages 12 and older at risk for severe disease or death.
Many states offering vaccine incentive programs
California and Minnesota are the latest states offering new incentives for people to get vaccinated.
California is offering gift cards and cash prizes, including a $15 million grand prize to be split among ten Californians who have been vaccinated.
It will include every resident who has already been vaccinated, and those who receive a shot before the state fully reopens on June 15, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office.
The next two million residents vaccinated will be eligible for $100 million in gift cards, doled out in $50 increments as a prepaid Visa or grocery store gift card.
About 50% of eligible Californians are already fully vaccinated and another 12% have received one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, but another 12 million residents are eligible but have not yet been inoculated, according to state officials.
In Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz kicked off the “Your Shot to Summer” campaign under which 100,000 Minnesotans who get vaccinated between Memorial Day weekend and the end of June will be eligible to choose from a range of incentives, including state park passes and fishing licenses as well as state fair and regional amusement park tickets.
“We wanted to match a program that we thought matched Minnesota,” Walz told reporters. “We think it’s a great way to kick off summer.”
“I think especially these dealing with the outdoors was very Minnesota, we do want to encourage people to get out there, we hope that these are lifelong. This might be some people’s first fishing license, we hope they buy one every year after that,” he said.
Minnesota’s Covid-19 restrictions on businesses, sporting events and social gatherings end Friday and Walz struck an optimistic tone for the upcoming holiday weekend.
“All of the mitigations are removed from businesses, business capacity and those types of things, so it will be a true Memorial Day weekend,” he said.
‘Get vaccinated, hit the beach’
New York City has its own plan to get everyone vaccinated. The city will provide vaccination buses at beaches and parks to offer free vaccines during the weekend.
“We’re going to go the extra mile, whatever it takes,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “You’re going to see our vaccine buses out all over New York City the next few days.”
He added: “Go, get vaccinated, hit the beach. Real simple.”
De Blasio also announced that the city has vaccinated over 9,000 home-bound individuals and will expand the program to include disabled people and those 75 and older. As of today, the city has administered a total of 8,130,889 vaccine doses.
Vaccine boosters will be needed at some point
But experts reiterate that getting vaccines now may not be enough and booster shots will be needed at some point.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said that current wisdom about boosters suggests that they will be needed, but the exact timing is not yet known.
“The exact timing of when boosters will be required will probably be a combination of two things,” he said. “One, how fast that immune response falls off, but also it may depend on what variants of Covid-19 are circulating.”
Participants in original vaccine trials are currently being followed so that their immune response can be looked at over time and there is some evidence that it does “fall off somewhat” over time, Marks said during a Covid-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project webinar.
He explained that this is because certain levels of immunity are sufficient to prevent Covid-19 with the original strain of the virus, but it may not be good enough for other variants.
“We’ll have to see where this all interacts. Is it possible we’re going to need a booster at some point? Yes. Is it probable? Yes. Do we know exactly when? No,” said Marks. “But if I had to look at my crystal ball, it’s probably not sooner hopefully than a year after being vaccinated for the aver/age adult.” However, he thinks it may be different for immuno-compromised or older adults who may need a booster shot sooner.
“The good news is it may turn out that the immunity lasts longer,” Marks added.
CNN’S Lauren Mascarenhas, Jen Christensen, Deidre McPhillips, Mirna Alsharif, Keith Allen, Cheri Mossburg, Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.