U.S. President Joe Biden received the updated COVID-19 booster on Tuesday as he implored Americans to take the same step. Here are the latest headlines surrounding the COVID-19 health crisis.
President Receives Bivalent Booster
The president received the latest COVID-19 booster shot on Tuesday afternoon, asking all eligible Americans to join him in rolling up their sleeves heading into the winter months. Health officials have been warning that cases are likely to spike again as the cold weather sets in and people retreat indoors.Read More »
While this booster version has been available since September, the president held off on getting it because he had been diagnosed with the virus over the summer. The current guidance by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends waiting three months between a COVID-19 diagnosis and receiving a booster. This is because immunity is typically still robust after contracting the virus.
Uptick in Booster Shots
According to the latest government data, Americans are slowly starting to ramp up their efforts to get the new booster. The White House said that about 20 million Americans have received the new shot. While this number may seem large, it is less than 10% of the eligible population.
The Biden administration has been warning that the combination of COVID-19 and influenza could spell disaster in the coming months if Americans do not take the steps to get vaccinated. It has been deemed safe to combine the flu shot with the COVID-19 vaccine.
The warning comes as hospitals across the nation grapple with a rapid surge in respiratory infections, particularly RSV in young children. According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), pediatric hospital beds are at a higher capacity than they have been over the past two years.
A study out of the Commonwealth Fund published earlier in the month said that about 90,000 COVID-19 fatalities could be prevented in the coming months if more Americans make it a priority to get their booster by the end of December. Conversely, if the vaccination rate stays at the current pace, the U.S. could see a staggering 1,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 each day this winter. Biden reminded Americans on Tuesday that the old vaccine or previous bouts of infection will not provide as much protection as the updated booster.
New Government Advertising Push Rolls Out Tuesday
Also on Tuesday, HHS revealed that it was going to roll out new advertising with the goal of encouraging more Americans to get their booster shots as soon as possible.
This advertising campaign began airing on Tuesday, targeting communities and populations at higher risk of the illness and those that have been underserved as it relates to the virus. For instance, the HHS wants to reach more Black and Hispanic Americans and educate them about the advantages of the latest vaccine version.
The television ads will air in 15 U.S. markets while the radio and print versions of the campaign will run in 30 markets. The radio ads will run in seven languages aimed at reaching Native Hawaiians, Asian Americans, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders.
More Funding Needed
Biden seized on the time in front of the cameras to push Congress for more funding directed at fighting COVID-19. Although Congress recently passed a measure to continue funding the federal government through the middle of December, this stopgap legislation did not include money earmarked for COVID-19 testing, vaccines, or treatment.
The Biden administration has been pushing lawmakers to pass the legislation needed to continue the funding. This is particularly important to Biden’s team after Pfizer announced last week that its vaccine will sell for $110 – $130 per dose if its contracts with the government expire.
Higher Immune Response Linked with Vaccine Side Effects
A new study published last week in the medical journal JAMA Network Open is reporting that individuals who experienced side effects after the COVID-19 vaccine also tend to boast a greater antibody response. The study examined individuals who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and reported side effects such as muscle pain, fever, and chills.
The researchers are quick to caution that nearly all of the participants of the study exhibited a strong immune response even in the absence of symptoms. The study looked at 928 adults who reported on their symptoms after receiving one of the two vaccines. The participants also submitted a dried blood spot used to measure the level of antibodies. The mean age of the participants was 65 and most of the subjects were White males.
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