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CNN  — 

The United States has a booster shot problem. As other nations hurtle ahead in their Covid-19 vaccination programs, lagging uptake in the US of the third vaccine is concerning public health experts.  

As of Sunday, uptake of the third shot in the United Kingdom (55.4% of the total population), Germany (55%), France (51.1%) and Canada (44%) dwarfed the US figure of 27.6%, according to Our World in Data

Evidence showing high rates of protection against the virus from three doses, and an Omicron variant-fueled surge in cases in the US, has struggled to convince the American public to take the third shot, CNN’s Jacqueline Howard reports. According to CNN analysis of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, the pace of booster doses going into arms is the lowest it has been in months.

Experts say Covid-19 fatigue and the partisan divide, which has plagued America’s vaccination campaign, is partly responsible for these figures: A Kaiser Family Foundation survey released last month found that 58% of fully vaccinated Democrats who have not had the booster expressed interest in a third dose, compared to just 18% of fully vaccinated Republicans who have not had it. 

Waning immunity is complicating the situation. Israel began vaccinating at-risk populations and people over 60 with a fourth dose January 2, and a pre-print study from the country suggests that the extra shot of Pfizer/BioNTech seems to provide better protection from infection and severe illness than three shots of the vaccine. 

CDC studies released last week showed that there were fewer emergency department visits and hospitalizations after the third dose than after the second dose – but its effectiveness declined over time. 

The United States can “move forward safely” into a less disruptive phase of the pandemic, a maskless US President Joe Biden said in his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, in which he outlined his plan to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.

Q: Should people be taking off their masks now they’re not required to wear them?

A: Just because a mask mandate may be lifted in your area doesn’t mean that you should go maskless, says CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is waiting for Pfizer-BioNTech to submit data from an ongoing trial on a three-dose regimen in these younger children before moving forward with consideration of an emergency use authorization.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is currently authorized for use in people as young as five. If the new emergency use authorization is granted, this shot will be the first coronavirus vaccine available for the youngest children – and the tentative plan is to roll out about 10 million vaccine doses initially, according to a CDC document.

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READS OF THE WEEK

Canada invokes emergency powers in a bid to stop trucker protest

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has invoked emergency powers in an attempt to sever financial support for the “Freedom Convoy” protests that have clogged streets in the Canadian capital Ottawa for weeks. They have also impeded access to the busiest land crossing in North America as truck drivers and their supporters demonstrate against vaccine mandates and pandemic control measures.  

The Emergencies Act can provide for the use of the military, but may not necessarily lead to that, and Trudeau said the government is not bringing in troops. The act can also temporarily suspend citizens’ rights to free movement or assembly. And the government is taking steps to stop financial support of illegal protests, Kelly McCleary and Holly Yan report. 

The news comes after the Ambassador Bridge between the US and Canada reopened Sunday and Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, announced plans to loosen pandemic restrictions. 

Selina Wang is in the same city as her grandmother for the Beijing Olympics. But a strict bubble, separating the games from the rest of China's population, has prevented them from meeting.

We are in the same Olympic city but remain a world apart 

China’s borders have been virtually closed for two years because of Covid, and the government has granted limited visas for journalists. The Beijing Winter Olympics offered a rare chance for CNN’s Selina Wang to return to the country.  

Millions of children have lost a parent or caretaker to Covid-19, study estimates 

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, test positive for Covid

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, tested positive for Covid-19, Clarence House said on Monday, four days after her husband Prince Charles was revealed to have contracted the virus, CNN’s Max Foster and Hannah Ryan report.  

Charles started isolating on February 10 after testing positive for the virus for the second time. The 73-year-old heir to the UK throne, who is fully vaccinated, had met with Queen Elizabeth “recently,” a royal source told CNN after his latest infection was announced. The source did not elaborate on how recently the meeting took place. 

Covid-19 is killing more people in the US now than during most of the pandemic 

TOP TIP

You’ve lost your vaccine card in the United States. Stay calm and follow these steps 

No one could have predicted before the pandemic that a little piece of white paper would hold so much significance, Megan Marples reports. It’s the key to entering some concert venues, traveling to certain countries and more. 

Testing, especially as the Omicron-fueled wave subsides, is as important as ever, experts caution. “Testing is how we see the virus. We can’t see it if we do not test,” said epidemiologist Dr. Michael Mina. 

TODAY’S PODCAST

It’s been a difficult few years for everyone, and people are feeling more burnt out than ever. This week on Chasing Life, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, explores how we should rethink our relationship to our jobs. Plus, hear how monks in New Mexico have learned the secret to work-life balance. Listen Now.