Although all Americans 50 years and older are now eligible for a new booster of COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) said some groups may benefit more from the shot than others. .
The immunocompromised, those living with the immunocompromised, and those at high risk for severe COVID-19 should probably consider getting a fourth dose of mRNA vaccine – another booster – as soon as possible. But people who have had COVID-19 within the last 3 months and older – but healthy – adults who want to wait until the fall to get a booster are probably okay to take a wait-and-see approach.
“For every recommended COVID-19 vaccine dose, admission drops,” said Sarah Oliver, MD, MSPH, of the CDC during a presentation on the future of boosters in the United States. Oliver said it was important that the timing of future booster dose recommendations match the country’s goals with future vaccination campaigns: Is the goal to stop all infections? Or to limit serious outcomes?
ACIP members expressed concern about booster fatigue and created the impression that a vaccination program that required large sections of the population to be boosted every 4 to 6 months would be considered a failure. They also stress that the primary series of vaccines, the first two doses, remained the most important in terms of preventing deaths.
No votes were cast today as ACIP members discussed these issues.
According to the CDC, 4.3 million people 50 and older have received a fourth dose. CDC COVID Data Tracker shows that 66% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 77.4% have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 45.5% of those eligible have received their first booster dose.
Cases are rising as BA.2 dominates
The United States reported 46,621 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 432 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. The 7-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases is 41,303, with 474 daily deaths, according to Washington Post tracker.
The increase in cases is probably related to the increase in the BA.2 subvariant. CDC Nowcast estimates that BA.2 accounts for 74.4% of circulating genera in the country and BA.2.12.1 accounts for 19%.
The increase comes as the country has given up mask mandates for public transport and aircraft. A new one vote by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that 56% of Americans still advocate for people on planes, trains and other public transportation to wear masks.
The Biden administration said yesterday that it intends to appeal a Florida judge’s decision that abolished the federal mask requirement for airplanes and other forms of public transportation, but only if the CDC decides to extend the measure is necessary. New York Times reports.
China’s rise continues
China’s rise continues with cases at very high levels, mostly led by activity in Shanghai, which is under lockdown and is home to about 26 million people. Officials reported 19,819 local cases today, 17,066 of them are asymptomatic.
Of the symptomatic cases, 90% were from Shanghai, and of the asymptomatic cases, 96% were from the city.
China also reported seven more COVID-19 deaths, all in Shanghai.
WHO regions share status reports
Two regional offices of the World Health Organization (WHO) held briefings today to detail the latest epidemiological patterns, advances in vaccination and the next steps in the fight against the pandemic.
Officials from Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) mentioned cases fell by 2.3% in the last week in the region, although the cases of North America had increased by 11.2% and the cases also increased in the Caribbean. Deaths fell by 15.2%, which PAHO Director Carissa Etienne, MBBS, said shows that vaccines work well to protect people from hospitalization and death.
Two-thirds of the population of Latin America have received two doses of vaccine, she said, noting that although vaccine supplies are now adequate, some countries are lagging behind and have not yet reached half of their population. Etienne called on countries to incorporate COVID-19 vaccination into their routine immunization campaigns.
Meanwhile, officials from WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) mentioned cases have fallen by 21% this week and the number of deaths fell by 24%. However, they warned that transmission is still high and the number of cases is rising in two countries.
So far, 42% of the region’s population is fully vaccinated, with only 5 out of 22 countries meeting the target of vaccinating 70% of their populations despite enough vaccine.
Ahmed Al-Mandhari, MD, PhD, Director of EMRO, said that countries in the region in the coming months will host major gatherings, including Umrah and Hajj pilgrimages in Saudi Arabia and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. He said the WHO and its partners are working with countries to ensure systems are in place to protect travelers and prevent further transmission of COVID-19 and other diseases.
He called on countries to scale up their surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 variants and continue to reach all people, especially the most vulnerable, with vaccine campaigns.
CIDRAP News Editor Lisa Schnirring contributed to this story.