The White House’s senior COVID advisor Andy Slavitt made a personal pitch to young people to get vaccinated during a briefing on Tuesday, revealing that his own son has been dealing with symptoms of long-COVID since contracting the virus six months ago.
“I want to reveal something personal with permission that underscores their importance,” Slavitt said, while urging eligible Americans to get vaccinated. “Last fall, one of my sons contracted COVID-19. Unfortunately, he is one of the many Americans battling long term symptoms. He’s young and fit, and in the prime of his life. But six months later, he still suffers from tachycardia, shortness of breath and ongoing and frequent flu-like symptoms. His hands are cold to the touch. Neither he nor his parents, my wife and I are sure how long this will last.”
Slavitt said that “many, many” young people have developed long-COVID and “many have it worse.”
“I know it’s easy when you’re young to imagine these things don’t affect you,” he said. “A vaccine may seem unnecessary. You feel healthy, you know people who have had COVID and they’re doing alright. But we are still learning about the long-term effects of COVID and as you’ll hear from Dr. Walensky, while cases and hospitalizations and deaths are down, COVID patients now tend to be younger. More than 1 in 3 COVID hospitalizations are people younger than age 50.”
Slavitt said vaccines can help protect against such outcomes, adding that walk-up appointments are now available for those who can’t schedule them.
Walensky added that the U.S. is administering between 1.5 million and 2 million vaccinations per day as cases, hospitalizations and deaths see declines. The U.S. is now averaging 17,724 new daily coronavirus cases, a low that hasn’t been seen since June 2020, and a decline of almost 18% in hospitalizations. Daily deaths due to coronavirus have also declined to 546, a low not seen since March 2020, which was the beginning of the pandemic.
“The past week has been a big week, with progress and milestones that set us on a path out of the pandemic,” Walensky said. “We should all have cautious optimism.”
Slavitt appealed to young people now eligible for the vaccine to help the U.S. “finish the job.”