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As states start softening or dropping restrictions on the number of people who can gather inside and out, and even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking at where and when masks should be considered “essential,” a disturbing trend threatens to blow up all the progress that’s been made in curbing the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past month, there’s been a steady decline in the number of people making visits strictly to get a vaccination, to the point that some previously hopping vaccination sites are offering shots on a “no appointment, no wait” basis. Clearly, supply now exceeds demand even though less than half of the U.S. population (48%) has received at least one shot and only 38% are fully vaccinated according to CDC data as of May 20, 2021. Urgent care lost a lot of business due to scarcity of testing supplies early on, coupled with patients’ irrational fears that visiting an urgent care center put them at risk. When the vaccines were approved, urgent care again was left wanting for supplies. Now they’re readily available and there’s an opportunity for urgent care operators to both recoup lost revenue (remember, there’s now a $40 fee attached to vaccination even though the patient pays nothing) and to prevent another surge in infections. Counsel patients so they understand that herd immunity may never be achieved at the rate we’re going, and that antibodies in those who have recovered from COVID-19 won’t last forever (and may offer no protection against the variants of the virus at all).

The COVID-19 Vaccine Trendline Isn’t Pretty and Herd Immunity Is Nowhere in Sight. Can Urgent Care Save the Day?