Just days after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the green light for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for certain populations, President Joe Biden received his third shot in front of the television cameras. Here is the latest on booster shots for Americans and when children may finally qualify for the vaccine.
The president received his booster shot on Monday afternoon at the White House. During remarks to the media just prior to the jab, Biden pleaded with the unvaccinated to get their shots. Although it is great news that the boosters are available for those who are eligible, Biden maintains that the most important part of this fight is to get those who are unvaccinated fully inoculated.Read More »
On the other side of the political aisle, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also announced on Monday that he received his booster. In his announcement on the floor of the Senate, McConnell encouraged others to do the right thing and get vaccinated.
Details About Booster Recommendations
Biden’s booster shot comes on the heels of the decision of CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky to break from the agency’s independent vaccine advisers by recommending boosters for a large group of the American population. While the advisers had recommended earlier in the week to encourage boosters for seniors and those in certain living situations, Walensky expanded her recommendation to include more people.
As it stands now, the booster is recommended for all Americans that are age 65 and older. In addition, those Americans between the ages of 18 to 64 who are at an increased risk of COVID-19 due to their interaction with the public in certain workplaces or institutional settings are being advised to get the shot. This includes healthcare workers, teachers, and retail employees.
Lastly, Americans living with high-risk health conditions that put them at a higher risk of developing COVID-19 complications may also be eligible to receive the booster. This includes those with diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, and obesity. According to White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients, up to 20 million Americans qualify for the booster based on these parameters.
The recommendation from Walensky includes a larger set of qualifications than last week’s advice from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This recommendation gave emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer booster to those 65 and older, Americans with a high risk of developing severe disease if infected, and those in professions that put them at a greater threat of infection.
Zients is assuring Americans that there are plenty of booster shots to go around. According to Zients, the White House has secured enough of the vaccine to provide every American with a booster shot. Zients also said that the Biden team is working to get these boosters to residents of long-term care facilities as a priority.
The boosters are available immediately to those who qualify. Like the first round of vaccines, these shots are available at no cost at approximately 80,000 locations around the country. Americans will be asked to self-attest to their qualifications to receive the booster.
Despite having enough vaccines on hand to provide millions of boosters, the US also recently announced that the country was purchasing an additional 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to donate to lower-income nations in need of extra help. This number means that the US has committed to over 1.1 billion donated vaccines on a global scale.
What About Moderna and Johnson & Johnson?
The booster recommendations only apply to those who originally received the Pfizer vaccine. This is because the data regarding the waning efficacy of the vaccine was only provided by Pfizer. The FDA and CDC will work in the coming weeks to widen the booster recommendations to include those Americans who received the Moderna or the Johnson & Johnson shot. Moderna has already asked the FDA to consider its new data in recommending booster shots. Johnson & Johnson has not yet applied for this consideration.
Daily Pace of Vaccination Slows to a Trickle
The news of the booster recommendations comes as the daily pace of new COVID-19 vaccinations is the lowest that it has been since the CDC began tracking this data in the middle of January. The new seven-day average of Americans initiating their vaccination protocol was just 231,695 last week. This figure is 31% less than last week’s data. The high point for the US was in April when millions of Americans were getting their first shot each day.
While this slowdown is in large part due to so many people already being done with the process, there are still 16 states that have not vaccinated at least half of their residents. According to the latest CDC data, nearly 25% of eligible Americans have not yet been vaccinated, equaling about 70 million people.
Pfizer Ready to Submit Data on Children
The pace of the daily vaccination is set to pick up significantly once the vaccine is approved for use in children. According to Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, the company is ready to ask the FDA for an EUA for its vaccine for the 5 – 11 age group in the coming days.
Walensky said that both the FDA and the CDC are anxiously awaiting the data from Pfizer so that the approval process can get started. Some experts are cautiously optimistic that the vaccine may be ready for this age group by Halloween.
The vaccine is currently only approved for those 12 and up. The rate of COVID-19 in children has skyrocketed in recent weeks as schools returned to in-person learning. According to the most recent data from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 26% of all confirmed cases in the US have been in children over the last week. An average of 266 children were hospitalized with complications of the virus every day last week, according to the CDC.
Explore Games and Apps