Friday Aug 19, 2022
Friday Aug 19, 2022

US opens COVID boosters to all adults


Nepalnews
2021 Nov 20, 7:24, WASHINGTON
A syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa., on Sept. 14, 2021. U.S. regulators have opened up COVID-19 booster shots to all and more adults, Friday, Nov. 19, letting them choose another dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Photo: AP

The U.S. on Friday opened COVID-19 booster shots to all adults and took the extra step of urging people 50 and older to seek one, aiming to ward off a winter surge as coronavirus cases rise even before millions of Americans travel for the holidays.

Until now, Americans faced a confusing list of who was eligible for a booster that varied by age, their health and which kind of vaccine they got first. The Food and Drug Administration authorized changes to Pfizer and Moderna boosters to make it easier.

Under the new rules, anyone 18 or older can choose either a Pfizer or Moderna booster six months after their last dose. For anyone who got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the wait already was just two months. And people can mix-and-match boosters from any company.

Vaccinations began in the U.S. last December, about a year after the coronavirus first emerged. More than 195 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, defined as having received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-dose J&J. More than 32 million already have received a booster, a large proportion — 17 million — people 65 or older. Experts say that’s reassuring as seniors are at particularly high risk from COVID-19 and were among the first in line for initial vaccinations

Teen boosters aren’t yet under discussion, and kid-sized doses of Pfizer’s vaccine are just now rolling out to children ages 5 to 11.

The Biden administration had originally planned on boosters for all adults but until now, U.S. health authorities — backed by their scientific advisers — had questioned the need for such a widespread campaign. Instead, they first endorsed Pfizer or Moderna boosters only for vulnerable groups such as older Americans or those at high risk of COVID-19 because of health problems, their jobs or their living conditions.

This time around, the experts agreed the overall benefits of added protection from a third dose for any adult — six months after their last shot — outweighed risks of rare side effects from Moderna’s or Pfizer’s vaccine, such as a type of heart inflammation seen mostly in young men.

Several other countries have discouraged use of the Moderna vaccine in young people because of that concern, citing data suggesting the rare side effect may occur slightly more with that vaccine than its competitor.

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