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Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. government has overcounted the number of Americans who are at least partly vaccinated against the coronavirus, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Millions more people than initially thought are unprotected as coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths are rising across the country.

The big picture: Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was revised last weekend for the number of people 65 and older who have received at least one shot, according to Bloomberg.

  • The CDC lowered the percentage vaccinated from 99.9%, where it had been for weeks, to 95%, without changing the raw shot totals.
  • The agency has not returned Axios' request for comment.

What it means: The change in data indicates that the U.S. has counted too many shots as first doses when they are instead second doses or booster shots.

By the numbers: CDC data indicated that 240 million people — or about 72.5% of the population — had at least one shot and that 203 million — 61.3% — were fully vaccinated.

  • But state and local officials reported that it was improbable for there to be such a huge disparity in vaccination numbers, Bloomberg reports.

The state of play: Three states — Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — found enough over-counting of first shots to indicate millions of unvaccinated people had mistakenly been counted as having received a dose.

  • Pennsylvania had one of the biggest gaps identified, according to Bloomberg, where the CDC's estimates of first doses for people 65 and older exceeded state estimates by about 850,000.
  • Illinois had more than 500,000 completely unvaccinated people ages 12 and up than initially thought. But the audit also found 730,000 people who were fully vaccinated and hadn’t been counted.

What they're saying: James Garrow, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, which has worked with the state to blend data sets for a more accurate view of vaccination trends, said "we don’t have any faith in the numbers on the CDC website, and we never refer to them."

  • “Where it has really made it difficult for us is targeting our booster messaging,” Garrow added.
  • “The truth is, we have no idea,” said Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s COVID czar.

But, but, but: The miscount means more Americans have received booster shots than shown in official federal data, Bloomberg writes.

What's next: Other states, including Minnesota, Colorado, New Jersey, North Carolina and Maine, have already submitted requests for revisions to the CDC for different reasons.

Editor's note: This is a developing story and has been updated throughout.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Updated Jan 14, 2022 - Axios Twin Cities

Questions about Twin Cities indoor dining vaccine mandates, answered

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Vaccine-or-test mandates for indoor dining go into effect in Minneapolis and St. Paul on Wednesday, Jan. 19. Here are answers to some common questions on the orders:

Q: Are all restaurants covered by the requirement?

A: No, St. Paul's order only covers establishments licensed by the city. That means coffee shops, fast food chains and other places that do not serve alcohol are exempt, according to the Pioneer Press.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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