Covid-19 cases fall to new lows in the US. But unvaccinated children are a ‘vulnerable host’ for the virus, expert says

Youth Vaccination Block Party Held In Queens Neighborhood
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05: Families visit a pop-up COVID-19 vaccine site and block party on June 5, 2021 in the Jackson Heights neighborhood in the Queens borough in New York City. With the Pfizer vaccine approved for children as young as 12 years old, vaccine eligibility has been extended to teenagers and pre-teens in all 50 states. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Americans are finally getting a breath of fresh air, as this summer is beginning to look like a time for not only soaking in the sun but also celebrating reopenings from the pandemic.

But as the adult population gets inoculated, experts continue to draw attention to children who are not yet vaccinated.

Dr. Richina Bicette, associate medical director at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told CNN that children are accounting for nearly 25% of total Covid-19 cases in the US.

“As adults get vaccinated and become more protected and immune to this virus, the virus is still in the community looking for a vulnerable host and pediatric patients fit that description,” Bicette explained.

And severe infections are not limited to older Americans. A study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined more than 200 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 who were likely hospitalized primarily for Covid-19 in the first three months of 2021.

The report revealed that while there were no deaths, nearly a third were admitted to intensive care units and roughly 5% required invasive mechanical ventilation.

Children 12 and older can receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and outreach efforts have already started in the race to protect teens who are eligible.

“I wanted to come get my vaccine because it’s going to benefit me, because of the summertime and also because I have to go to school,” said 14-year-old Aaliyah Jennings, who told CNN she received her first vaccine dose on Friday in New York.

On June 10, vaccine advisers will meet with the US Federal Drug Administration to discuss allowing Covid-19 vaccines for children 11 and under.

Nearly 63% of adults in the US have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine as of Saturday morning, CDC data shows.

We aren’t there yet, but we’re getting closer

Despite that less than half of the total US population is fully vaccinated — at about 42% — there’s been progress in how people feel about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their lives.

Two-thirds, or 66%, of adults in America say their lives are at least somewhat back to normalcy, according to a new Gallup survey.

“Almost all demographic subgroups of the population show large shifts since last fall in reports that their lives are back to normal,” the survey says.

The US averaged about 14,300 new cases per day over the last week, down from nearly 71,300 daily in mid-April, according to Johns Hopkins University data. During the country’s peak of infections last winter, the daily average of new cases eclipsed 250,000.

States are noticing the progress. Mass vaccination sites in Massachusetts will begin closing this month, Gov. Charlie Baker said in a news release, touting that 79% of adult residents have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

New Jersey passed a bill this week to end the public health emergency initiated by the Covid-19 pandemic, as limits on group gatherings across the state are lifted.

Meanwhile, Hawaii has moved to loosen some of its restrictions as it reaches a vaccine milestone. Gov. David Ige said Friday that he’s ending all restrictions for inter-county travel on June 15, touting that 52% of his state’s population is fully vaccinated.

“The easing of travel restrictions is a direct result of our robust vaccination rate, and a community that sacrificed and did what it had to do over the past year and a half to stop the spread of Covid-19,” Ige said.

Companies push for return to normalcy

President Joe Biden’s goal of vaccinating 70% of adults with at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine by July 4 has proven difficult, to say the least, and incentives ranging from scholarships to lotteries are being offered by states to drive demand for vaccines.

Now, enter free beer.

This week, Anheuser-Busch teamed up with the White House in promising a round of free beers to those 21 and older if the country reaches its goal.

“Anheuser-Busch will buy America’s next round of beer, seltzer, non-alcoholic beverage or other A-B product,” the company said in a news release.

Royal Caribbean International announced on Saturday that six of its ships will sail from major US ports in Florida and Texas beginning in July.

The company is not requiring vaccines for passengers, but those who are not inoculated “will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols,” according to a news release from the company.

“This is it. Vacationers can finally plan to take their precious time off this summer and truly get away after what has been a challenging time for everyone,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, in the release.