You know how Joe Biden made an announcement last month about his plan to get every fully vaccinated adult in the United States an additional booster shot of whatever covid-19 vaccine they’d received? Well, a vaccine advisory panel with the Food and Drug Association rejected the president’s proposal on Friday, the Associated Press reports, on the grounds that it was totally not necessary—at least not for most people.
The panel did recommend booster shots for fully vaccinated individuals who, due to a variety of factors are at greater risk for a severe and perhaps even fatal case of covid—people 65 years of age and older, people with underlying medical conditions, people whose workplaces make them more susceptible to transmission. But the vast majority of fully vaccinated Americans will be fine without them, explains Indiana University chief health officer Aaron E. Carroll in a new op-ed for The New York Times, especially at a time when some countries still boast vaccination stats in the single digits:
...the F.D.A. and the Biden administration need to be clearer in their communication. The most important thing would be to clarify the goals of a booster plan, should one be put in place. If the main reason to vaccinate is to reduce Covid-19 to a more manageable respiratory virus, one that causes far less hospitalization and death, boosters might be continued for the immunocompromised and considered for the elderly but may not be needed yet for most people.
If the goal is to prevent all breakthrough infections, then boosters may be necessary for everyone. But reaching “Covid zero” is likely an unattainable goal, with or without boosters, even if it were defensible.
- The Delta variant of the coronavirus, which has been the dominant strain in the U.S. for months now, now makes up more than 99 percent of all covid infections nationwide. “It’s not unexpected, because it’s more transmissible, but it is also a strong reminder that we need to have continuous vigilance,” said Dr. Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist and professor at George Mason University. “The biggest piece is, ‘Don’t let your guard down.’ We need continuous surveillance, genomic sequencing, access to testing and public health interventions” like vaccination and masking. [The New York Times]
- Hospitals are once again experiencing staffing shortages around the country, and it’s having a huge impact on the number of patients they’re able to provide life-saving care to. [Reuters]
- The number of fully vaccinated Americans is slowly, slowly rising. Now, just under 55 percent of us have received all our shots, while the same can be said for nearly 66 percent of adults. There have been 41,915,285 total cases in the U.S. since the coronavirus pandemic began and 670,565 deaths. [CDC]