9% of Americans have gotten COVID-19 vaccine so far, prompting criticism from metro health experts

ATLANTA — Getting a COVID-19 vaccine has not been easy, but new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 9% of Americans have gotten the shot.

That is over the course of nearly a two-month span. At that rate, it would take another year and a half to vaccinate everyone.

Splitting doses and delaying second shots are two strategies that some experts believe are necessary when it comes to vaccinating as many people as possible against COVID-19.

But a local expert who spent more than two decades with the CDC is pushing back on that.

“What disappoints you the most?” Channel 2′s Michael Seiden asked Dr. Walter Orenstein, associate director of the Emory University Hospital Vaccine Center, about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I think the biggest disappointment is we didn’t have the resources needed to plan the allocation and distribution,” Orenstein said.

Orenstein told Seiden he spent 26 years as the head of the U.S. immunization program at the CDC.

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He said right now, some of his biggest concerns with the vaccines are low supply and the public’s distrust of the government.

“The Operation Warp Speed, which initially sounded like a great name, has given people thoughts that corners have been cut and the trials that have led to the emergency use authorizations are the same kinds of trials we do with regular licensed vaccines,” Orenstein said.

Seiden spoke with Orenstein just hours after we learned that a third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson may soon be available to the public.

So Seiden asked him, which vaccine should we get?

“I would get whatever I can, given we’re seeing 2,000 to 4,000 people dying per day from COVID-19,” Orenstein said.

But there are differences. Pfizer and Moderna require two doses while Johnson & Johnson is only one.

And when it comes to the efficacy of each vaccine Pfizer is 95%, Moderna is 94.5% and Johnson & Johnson is 72%.

Orenstein said don’t let that number fool you.

“I would recommend getting whatever you could get because all of the vaccines are more effective, and no vaccine which is 0% effective,” Orenstein said.

But despite the research, there is still a lot of concerns and mistrust coming from the public, especially in minority communities.

“As you know, typically in the African American populations, you know, folks are dying three times as often as the general population,” said family medicine Dr. C. Nicole Swiner.

Swiner is working as a community educator for Wake Research.

“We’re continuing to recruit as volunteers are to continue to be become volunteers for these research studies because we need and should have much more information on how these vaccines affect the minorities,” Swiner said.

She told Seiden after testing positive for COVID-19 she too had concerns about getting the vaccine. But after looking at the science…

“I decided it was in my best interest to not only protect my health but protect my family’s health,” Swiner said. “Thankfully, I’m still here. Knock on wood. I haven’t grown a third limb or third eye. I’m doing well!”