Better get another booster before Halloween, says White House COVID coordinator Dr Jha

Better get another booster before Halloween, says White House COVID coordinator Dr Jha

To optimize protection ahead of another pandemic winter, White House COVID coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said Friday that people should consider getting the newly updated COVID-19 reminder before Halloween.

The sooner the better, Jha said, urging people to get a booster between mid-September and mid-October, “but no later than the end of October for maximum protection” before the holidays, he said. said in an interview with ABC News after his own vaccination.

For people who have recently had COVID, Jha suggested following the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and waiting at least 90 days, or three months, before receiving the updated vaccine. Other experts have suggested that waiting four to six months will allow people to mount a stronger immune response to the vaccine.

Waiting longer, Jha said, increases the chances of getting re-infected — and ultimately, “it’s very difficult to time the market,” he said.

Jha, who received his updated vaccine Friday morning at a clinic in Washington, DC, alongside second gentleman Doug Emhoff, described the new vaccine as a vital lever in forecasting the spread of COVID this winter.

While some modeling shows potential for a big increase this winter, Jha said, others show only a “modest bump” – and the difference could be determined by how many people get an updated vaccine before. the colder winter months, a time when the virus has ticked the past two years.

“If you go and get vaccinated, you can actually influence what happens,” Jha said.

“There’s nothing fatal about what’s going to happen. If a large portion of Americans go out and get vaccinated, that will have a significant beneficial effect in keeping infections low.”

White House COVID Coordinator Ashish Jha receives an updated booster injection alongside Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, September 16, at a COVID Center in Washington, DC

Cheyenne Haslett/ABC News

So far, the government has made 30 million vaccines available to states for distribution, out of an overall order of around 170 million vaccines between the two companies Pfizer and Moderna.

Twenty-five million vaccines were shipped Friday, according to the White House, and Jha said he was pleased to see states are already submitting new orders.

But the latest figures on how many people actually rolled up their sleeves for a photo aren’t expected until next week, Jha said. And while the booster campaign is expected to intensify in the coming weeks, past metrics show that Americans are tired of the booster: just under half of those vaccinated received a first booster, while a third of people over 50 received a second booster. shot down after becoming eligible last spring.

The newest vaccine, which targets both the most dominant variant, BA.4/BA.5, and the original COVID strain, has the potential to be the only vaccine Americans need this year, similar to an annual flu vaccine, and offering greater protection against COVID as it matches the virus that is currently circulating.

While experts warn that another new variant could always thwart the plan, introducing new factors like increased spread or evasion of immune protection, Jha said the country is already able to give healthy young people health one injection a year and don’t even think a new variant would change that.

For those under 50, they last became eligible for boosters in the fall of 2021, just as omicron was gaining momentum. These people have just become eligible for another booster with the introduction of the updated bivalent booster this fall – one year later.

“I’m very confident based on everything we have that for the average risk person, even an Omicron-like variant probably won’t cause us to suggest that [young, healthy] people are going to get a second injection within a year,” Jha said. “I think it’s both unrealistic and unnecessary.”

That said, older adults might see a faster decrease in protection from their vaccines, as has been the case throughout the pandemic, warranting another chance to boost protection in the spring, Jha said.

Although there is no evidence yet from a large-scale clinical trial to demonstrate how much better protection the bivalent boosters will have, Jha said he believes there is “strong consensus” on the fact that they would be better.

He pointed to evidence of safety and efficacy around the millions of vaccines that have already been distributed, as well as a clinical trial of bivalent vaccines targeting BA.1, an earlier subvariant of omicron, that the companies vaccines were then abandoned in favor of new strains. , BA.4 and BA.5.

“If you look at the totality of the evidence, everything we know about the initial injections, if you look at how the BA.1 bivalent clinical trials, what they’ve shown us about how it generates an immune response, everything suggests that BA.5 bivalents should provide a much higher degree of protection,” Jha said.

The CDC approved the bivalent booster shots in early September, and the rollout began in earnest after Labor Day weekend. The Pfizer bivalent booster is available for everyone over 12, while the Moderna bivalent booster is available for everyone over 18.

Vaccines for those under 12 are expected this fall, although vaccine companies must first submit data on younger age groups to the Food and Drug Administration, which will then review the data for clearance and possible CDC recommendation.

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