4.4M Americans roll up sleeves for omicron-targeted boosters

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Carla K. Johnson

A booster shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is on display at the Vaccine Clinic in Townsend, Virginia, Tuesday, September 20, 2022. US health officials say 4.4 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves for his latest COVID-19 booster shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the count on Thursday as public health experts lamented President Joe Biden’s recent remarks that the “pandemic is over.”Credit: Christopher Rudder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP

US health officials say 4.4 million Americans Updated COVID-19 booster shots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted a count on Thursday as public health experts lamented President Joe Biden’s recent remarks that the “pandemic is over.”

The White House said in its own estimate that more than 5 million people received the new boosters, which explains the delay in reporting in states.

Health experts said it’s too early to predict whether demand will match the 171 million doses of new boosters the US ordered in the fall.

Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said, “I don’t think anyone would look at flu vaccination coverage at this point and say, ‘Oh, what a disaster. ‘ said. “I think a lot of people will be vaccinated (for the new coronavirus) when the number of cases starts to rise significantly.”

A temporary shortage of the Moderna vaccine prompted some pharmacies to cancel appointments and urge people to reschedule appointments for the Pfizer vaccine. It was expected to be resolved by clearing the batch of vaccine doses.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 Coordinator, said: “We’ve been thinking and talking about this as an annual vaccine. flu vaccineThe flu vaccine season starts in late September/early October. We have just started an educational campaign. So despite the fact that this was a strong start, we actually expect this to be stronger. “

Some Americans who plan to get shots designed to target the most common Omicron strains say they are waiting because they have been infected with COVID-19 recently or another. amplifierThey follow public health advice and wait a few months to get the full benefits of antibodies that fight existing viruses.

Others plan to shoot at holiday gatherings or closer to the winter months, when respiratory viruses spread more easily.

Jeannie Murphy, 69, a former hospital chaplain in Shawnee, Kansas, plans to get a new booster in the next few weeks after having minor knee surgery. From what she sees on her Nextdoor app, there is high interest among her neighbors.

“There’s quite a bit of discussion going on among people who are ready to make plans,” Murphy said. will jump in and say, ‘You’re crazy, you just need to go get a shot.'”

Mr. Biden later acknowledged criticism of his statement that the pandemic is over, and clarified that the pandemic is “not what it used to be.” She believes her illness has stabilized when she “gets a COVID shot in the fall, just like a flu shot.”

Experts hope she’s right, but they’re waiting to see what level of infections the winter brings. Another surge could follow.

Asked Thursday by a panel of biodefense experts why he’s still having trouble sleeping at night, Dr. Anthony Fauci said half of vaccinated Americans didn’t get their first booster dose.

“There are vulnerabilities in our population that keep us in a mode of potential disruption of the social order,” Fauci said. “I think we should do better as a country.”

Some Americans who have received the new vaccine say they are excited about the idea of ​​a vaccine that targets the currently circulating subspecies.

Jeff Westling, 30, an attorney in Washington, DC, received new boosters and flu shots, one in each arm, on Tuesday. He practices martial arts jiu-jitsu and wants to protect himself from infections caused by close contact. “There’s nothing wrong with trusting people whose job it is to see evidence.”

Meanwhile, Biden’s remarks in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired on Sunday reverberated on social media.

“We still have a problem with COVID. We still have a lot of work to do. But the pandemic is over,” Biden said while walking through a Detroit auto show. “I notice that no one is wearing a mask.

By Wednesday, when the Kansas Department of Health posted on Facebook where residents could find the new booster shots, the first commenter cynically said:

“But Biden says the pandemic is over.”

Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, said the president’s statement has fueled public confusion despite attempts to clarify it. rice field.

“People are not sure when it is appropriate to get a boost. , is often confusing,” says Michaud.

“Any time you mix up messages, it’s detrimental to public health efforts,” Michaud said.

Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida, said he was concerned that the president’s statement could take on a life of its own and stall prevention efforts.

“That soundbite will be there for a while and spread like wildfire, and it will give you the impression, ‘Oh, I don’t need to do anything else,'” Salemi said.

“If you’re happy that 400 or 500 people are dying every day from COVID, then there’s a problem with that,” Salemi said. We can absolutely do well because we can completely prevent it with the tools we have.”

New York City photographer Vivian Gukwa, 44, got her new booster on Monday. She received two Moderna shots, but did not receive her first booster.

“When I saw that the new booster could work on the Omicron variant, I thought, ‘I’m doing it,'” Gukwa said.

“I don’t want anything to do with Omicron again. I was kind of excited to see the boosters updated.”

More batches of Moderna COVID shots shipped amid reports of shortages

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