CDC Strengthens Booster Advice

Agency now says everyone over 18 who is eligible should get another shot
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2021 6:07 PM CST
CDC Strengthens Booster Advice
Syringes of Moderna COVID-19 booster vaccine sit on a table at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Schuylkill East Norwegian Street in Pottsville, Pa., on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.   (Lindsey Shuey/Republican-Herald via AP)

(Newser) – While much is unknown about the new omicron COVID variant—including how effective existing vaccines are against it—the CDC is urging people not to take any chances. The agency strengthened its advice Monday to say that people over 18 should get a booster shot, New York Times reports. Earlier advice stated that people over 50 and others at higher risk of illness should get a shot, while other adults "may" get a shot when they are eligible, six months after their second Pfizer or Moderna shot, or two months after a Johnson & Johnson shot. Researchers say it could be two weeks before they can determine vaccine effectiveness against omicron.

"Scientists in the United States and around the world are urgently examining vaccine effectiveness related to this variant," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, per NBC. "I strongly encourage the 47 million adults who are not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to vaccinate the children and teens in their families as well because strong immunity will likely prevent serious illness." The variant, believed to be more transmissible than delta and earlier variants, was first detected in southern Africa, but cases have now been detected in countries including Canada, Spain, Denmark, the UK, and Portugal, where 13 members of a soccer club tested positive for the variant Monday, reports Reuters. One member of the Lisbon club had recently traveled to South Africa.

The World Health Organization warned Monday that the global risk appears to be "very high," with early evidence showing that the variant has mutations that make it more transmissible and better able to avoid immune responses, the AP reports. "Depending on these characteristics, there could be future surges of COVID-19, which could have severe consequences, depending on a number of factors, including where surges may take place," the UN agency said. No omicron cases have been detected in the US so far. President Biden said Monday that the variant is a "cause for concern, not a cause for panic." (Read more omicron variant stories.)

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