HEALTH

Older US adults should get another COVID-19 shot, health officials recommend

Feb 28, 2024, 4:38 PM

FILE - Comirnaty, a new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination booster for COVID-19, is displayed at a pharmac...

FILE - Comirnaty, a new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination booster for COVID-19, is displayed at a pharmacy in Orlando, Fla., on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. Older U.S. adults should roll up their sleeves for another COVID-19 shot, even if they received a booster in the fall, an influential government advisory panel said Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Older U.S. adults should roll up their sleeves for another COVID-19 shot, even if they got a booster in the fall, U.S. health officials said Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Americans 65 and older should get another dose of the updated vaccine that became available in September — if at least four months has passed since their last shot. In making the recommendation, the agency endorsed guidance proposed by an expert advisory panel earlier in the day.

“Most COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations last year were among people 65 years and older. An additional vaccine dose can provide added protection … for those at highest risk,” CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen said in a statement.

The advisory panel’s decision came after a lengthy discussion about whether to say older people “may” get the shots or if they “should” do so. That reflects a debate among experts about how necessary another booster is and whether yet another recommendation would add to the public’s growing vaccine fatigue.

Some doctors say most older adults are adequately protected by the fall shot, which built on immunity derived from earlier vaccinations and exposure to the virus itself. And preliminary studies so far have shown no substantial waning in vaccine effectiveness over six months.

However, the body’s vaccine-induced defenses tend to fade over time, and that happens faster in seniors than in other adults. The committee had recommended COVID-19 booster doses for older adults in 2022 and 2023.

COVID-19 continues to be a danger

COVID-19 remains a danger, especially to older people and those with underlying medical conditions. There are still more than 20,000 hospitalizations and more than 2,000 deaths each week due to the coronavirus, according to the CDC. And people 65 and older have the highest hospitalization and death rates.

Some members of the advisory panel said a “should” recommendation is meant to more clearly prod doctors and pharmacists to offer the shots.

“Most people are coming in either wanting the vaccine or not,” said Dr. Jamie Loehr, a committee member and family doctor in Ithaca, New York. “I am trying to make it easier for providers to say, ‘Yes, we recommend this.’”

In September, the government recommended a new COVID-19 shot recipe built against a version of the coronavirus called XBB.1.5. That single-target vaccine replaced combination shots that had been targeting both the original coronavirus strain and a much earlier omicron version.

Recommendation from the CDC

The CDC recommended the new shots for everyone 6 months and older, and allowed that people with weak immune systems could get a second dose as early as two months after the first.

Most Americans haven’t listened. According to the latest CDC data, 13% of U.S. children have gotten the shots and about 22% of U.S. adults have. The vaccination rate is higher for adults 65 and older, at nearly 42%.

“In each successive vaccine, the uptake has gone down,” said Dr. David Canaday, a Case Western Reserve University infectious diseases expert who studies COVID-19 in older people.

“People are tired of getting all these shots all the time,” said Canaday, who does not serve on the committee. “We have to be careful about over-recommending the vaccine.”

But there is a subset of Americans — those at higher danger of severe illness and death — who have been asking if another dose is permissible, said Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University vaccines expert who serves on a committee workgroup that has been debating the booster question.

Indeed, CDC survey data suggests that group’s biggest worry about the vaccine is whether it’s effective enough.

Agency officials say that among those who got the latest version of the COVID-19 vaccine, 50% fewer will get sick after they come into contact with the virus compared with those who didn’t get the fall shot.

KSL 5 TV Live

Health

FILE - A doctor uses a hand-held Doppler probe on a pregnant woman to measure the heartbeat of the ...

Amanda Seitz, Associated Press

Emergency rooms refused to treat pregnant women, leaving one to miscarry in a lobby restroom

Complaints about pregnant women being turned away from emergency rooms spiked in the months after states began enacting strict abortion laws following the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

3 days ago

Marc Dunbabin, got his second chance at life with his family thanks to a bone marrow donor....

Emma Benson

Utah dad gets second chance at life thanks to bone marrow transplant

Utah dad hopes to meet the person who gave him second chance at life thanks to a bone marrow transplant.

4 days ago

Melatonin use can be especially dangerous in children and should only be used after consulting a pe...

Sandee LaMotte

Melatonin industry asked to voluntarily tighten standards after dramatic rise in childhood ER visits

A March 2024 report from the CDC discovered some 11,000 children had been seen in emergency rooms between 2019 and 2022 after ingesting melatonin while unsupervised.

5 days ago

Paris Hilton is pictured at a news conference....

Tran Nguyễn, Associated Press

Paris Hilton backs California bill to bring more transparency to youth treatment facilities

Hotel heiress and media personality Paris Hilton is backing California legislation that aims to bring more transparency to discipline used at facilities for troubled teens.

6 days ago

FILE: Getty Images...

Sylvia Hui, Associated Press

UK lawmakers will vote on a landmark bill to gradually phase out smoking

A plan by Britain’s government to introduce a landmark smoking ban that aims to stop young people from ever smoking is set to clear its first hurdle on Tuesday, despite vocal opposition from within Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party.

6 days ago

(File photo)...

Jonel Aleccia AP Health Writer

Bird flu is spreading to more farm animals. Are milk and eggs safe?

A bird flu outbreak in U.S. dairy cows has grown to affect more than two dozen herds in eight states, just weeks after the nation's largest egg producer found the virus in its chickens.

9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Older US adults should get another COVID-19 shot, health officials recommend