All U.S. adults may soon get access to second booster shot

Biden administration officials are developing a plan to allow all adults to receive a second coronavirus booster shot, pending federal agency sign-offs, as the White House and health experts seek to blunt a virus surge that has sent hospitalizations to their highest levels since March 3.

Virus levels have risen across the country, fueled by ever-more-contagious omicron subvariants such as BA. 5 that evade some immune protections and have increased the risk of reinfections. About 112,000 new cases have been reported per day, according to The Washington Post’s rolling seven-day average – with the true number many times higher, say experts, as most Americans test at home. Hospitalization and death levels are mounting, although they remain significantly below January peaks, with about 38,000 people hospitalized with covid as of Sunday, and an average daily death toll of 327 as of Monday.

Currently, a second booster shot is available only to those 50 and older, as well as to those 12 and older who are immunocompromised. But administration officials are concerned by data that suggests immunity wanes within several months of the first booster shot. Swiftly expanding access to booster shots also would enable people who are boosted now to receive reformulated shots that target newer virus variants, when those become available, likely later this year. In addition, officials want to use vaccine doses that are reaching their expiration dates and would otherwise be discarded.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022