Fewer than 2% of US adults have received Covid-19 boosters
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At least 4.4 million people have received an updated Covid-19 diagnosis since the beginning of the month, according to data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number represents approximately 1.5% of the population currently eligible for vaccination in the United States
The data does not include people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech boosters in Idaho and Texas, the CDC said, so it is likely an underestimate. The White House estimates that the number is close to 5 million doses of new boosters, the Associated Press reported.
The CDC signed off on updated versions of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s enhanced vaccines on September 1, and pharmacies and other vaccine sites began administering the new vaccines around the weekend. The dual measures target both the original and currently circulating coronavirus subtypes BA.4 and BA.5.
Dr. Scott Roberts, an epidemiologist at Yale Medicine, said the relatively small increase is “disappointing.”
“I would expect a lot more Americans to get a raise this time,” he said.
Roberts said the public’s lack of awareness about vaccinations or the prevailing narrative that the epidemic is about to end has hindered the spread of the vaccine.
The fact that this force came out days before Biden said the disaster was over is a hugely mixed message, he said. “Now it will be even more difficult to convince those who are at risk of the fence to get a booster.”
However, the US has seen an overall increase in the demand for Covid vaccines since the introduction: the US now administers approximately 314,000 Covid vaccines per day, on average weekly. That’s nearly triple the number at the start of the month.
As of Tuesday, the United States had shipped more than 25 million doses of reinforcements to tens of thousands of locations. Most people now live within 5 miles of a site that offers the updated vaccines.
The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 12 get an update, as long as at least two months have passed since their last Covid vaccine. People who have recently contracted Covid should wait at least until their acute illness is over, and the CDC says they can consider delaying their boosters for up to three months after their symptoms started or since they were first diagnosed with the disease.
People can mix and match the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but Pfizer’s booster is available to people ages 12 and older while Moderna’s is limited to ages 18 and older.
Some pharmacists reported shortages fueled by Moderna’s update earlier this week. But CVS said Thursday it has begun receiving additional Moderna doses and expects more in the coming days and weeks. Walgreens said availability of Moderna doses varies by location.
Nearly 80% of Americans have received at least one shot of the primary Covid vaccine, and nearly 68% are considered fully vaccinated by the CDC, meaning they have received one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A Johnson or two Pfizer vaccine. , Moderna’s or Novavax’s, which was approved in July.
Biden administration officials have pointed to the upgraded boosters, however, as an important step in getting the U.S. out of the crisis.
“For the first time since December 2020, these vaccines, our vaccines, have caught the virus,” White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha said in a briefing earlier this month.
Jha said the vaccines should provide better protection against infection and transmission, as well as longer-lasting protection against severe illness, compared to previous Covid vaccines.
But experts are still collecting real-world data, as vaccines have been distributed without results from human trials. Laboratory studies found that the boosters elicited strong responses against BA.4 and BA.5, and human trial data showed that the same vaccine elicited a strong response against omicron strains at baseline. ah, BA.1.
Approval of bivalent boosters for children ages 5 to 11 may be just weeks away, Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Evaluation and Research, said at an event this week with the Covid-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project.
Public health officials expect to see another wave of Covid around Thanksgiving, and flu season appears to be peaking in October, when the CDC says updated Covid boosters and flu shots can be given together.
If the pace of vaccine expansion doesn’t pick up, Roberts said, the U.S. could see an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
“A lot of people definitely need reinforcements and this comes at a critical time,” he said. “We’re going into the winter when we expect cases to go up. Many parts of the country are now continuing to have high levels of the virus circulating.”
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