CDC Advises Adults To Get Booster Injection Due To Omicron Problems
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rochelle Walenski gives opening remarks during the Senate hearing on Health, Education, Labor and Retirement on Next Steps: Next Steps in the COVID-19 Response at Capitol Hill in Washington, November 4. , 2021
Elisabeth Franz | Reuters
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday stepped up their recommendations for Covid booster shots, telling all adults they “should” receive an extra dose amid growing concerns over the omicron option.
“The recent appearance of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) further underscores the importance of vaccinations, boosters and preventive measures needed to protect against COVID-19,” CDC director Rochelle Walenski said Monday.
Earlier this month, the CDC approved booster doses for all adults, stating that anyone over 18 “can” get the shot if they want. Only people 50 and older were told that they “should” be vaccinated at that time. The agency is currently making its strongest recommendation to anyone 18 and older, saying that they should take an additional shot six months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series, or two months after their first Johnson & Johnson shot.
The World Health Organization, in an article published Sunday, warned that the global risk associated with the omicron is “very high.” This variant has over 30 mutations in its spiny protein alone, some of which are associated with higher transmission and decreased protection of antibodies. The WHO said these mutations could trigger future outbreaks of infection with “serious consequences.”
“Early data from South Africa suggest an increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, and scientists in the United States and around the world are urgently investigating the vaccine efficacy associated with this variant,” Walenski said.
Although omicron is believed to be more infectious than the predominant delta variant, it is not yet clear how much the mutated strain will affect the effectiveness of currently available vaccines. Moderna and Pfizer said they will have more data on this in about two weeks. Companies say they can adjust their vaccines relatively quickly to deal with new options.
“I don’t think the vaccines do not protect as a result,” Pfizer CEO Albert Burla told CNBC’s Squawk Box Monday. “I think as a result, which we don’t know yet, vaccines provide less protection.”
Burla said Pfizer could develop a new vaccine within 100 days. Moderna CEO Stephan Bansel told CNBC on Monday that the company could quickly roll out a higher-dose omicron booster vaccine, but it could take months to develop a vaccine for a specific option.
While the omicron has yet to be found in the US, President Joe Biden said Monday that the country will face the option sooner or later and urged Americans to give booster shots for added protection. Valenxi, in a statement on Monday, urged people to get tested as well.
“I also want to urge people to get tested for COVID-19 if they are sick,” Walenski said. “Expanded testing will help us quickly identify Omicron.”
The emergence of the omicron stems from health officials already concerned about a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus in winter and a decrease in the effectiveness of the vaccine.
A study published in the journal Science this month found that the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing infections dropped from 86% to 43% between February and October. The Moderna vaccine dropped from 89% to 58%, and the J&J vaccine efficacy dropped from 86% to 13% in the same study.
However, Pfizer found that its booster dose provided 95% protection against symptomatic infection in a clinical trial involving 10,000 people.