New Covid boosters expected soon for all over 12s

White House Covid coordinator Dr Ashish Jha said on Wednesday that the newly updated Covid boosters will be available for teens and adults “within weeks”.

“I think it will be available and all Americans over the age of 12 will be eligible for it,” Jha told NBC News’ Lester Holt.

The new boosters target the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, as well as the original virus strain. BA.5 accounts for nearly 90% of new Covid cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention.

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The Food and Drug Administration will determine how well updated vaccines protect against the virus, Jha said, adding that he expects them to “work much better at preventing the transmission of infection and serious illness.” than current reminders.

When should you get another callback?

Currently, adults 50 and older, as well as immunocompromised people, are eligible for a second booster four months after receiving the first.

With new snapshots coming, should eligible people get their next snapshot now or wait for updated versions?

At first glance, when to take your next vaccine might seem simple: Waiting seems like a reasonable option as the redesigned boosters should provide the best level of protection against the dominant forms of the virus in circulation.

But it has become an increasingly complicated issue in a country where vaccination has varied widely and people have different levels of risk.

Many eligible people in the United States are vaccinated but have not received a booster. Some are double boosted. The question of whether a person has been infected or re-infected is even more confusing.

The level of immunity across the country is “astonishingly different now than it was just a year ago,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

To make matters even more confusing, if people receive their next vaccine in early fall, scientists are concerned about whether they will still have sufficient immune protection against the virus during the winter months, when Covid cases are expected to rise again.

Research has shown that the antibodies generated by existing vaccines begin to decline after just a few months.

“There is no clear answer,” said Dr. Katherine Poehling, vaccine expert and pediatrician at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist in North Carolina. The timing of your next vaccine, she said, is about as tricky as “stock market timing.”

The best way to time your next Covid shot may be to look at your individual risk factors – such as age and underlying conditions – as well as the level of spread in your community and the time since your last vaccine dose. , say the experts.

The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are often most at risk of serious complications from Covid, but so are other groups, such as those who have diabetes, asthma, or chronic lung disease.

“I would say that if someone was in a community with a high rate of transmission and they were very vulnerable, they might want to take immediate advantage of a booster that is currently available,” said Dr. Ofer Levy, director of the Precision Vaccination Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

On the other hand, someone who is young, healthy and lives in a community with low Covid transmission may be able to make the decision to wait for the updated recall, he said. declared.

Existing vaccines that a young, healthy individual has already received should still provide “protection against the worst outcomes, which are ICU admission and death,” he said.

To be on the safe side, postponing vaccination until the updated booster is available is always a gamble for anyone: Covid cases are still high in the United States, with more than 98,000 cases per day, on average, according to data from the CDC.

Additionally, federal health officials have yet to decide whether they will immediately distribute the updated doses to all American adults or start with those most at risk, such as the elderly,

Whether authorities will make the vaccine immediately available to all eligible people will depend on how much supply Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are able to manufacture and distribute by next month, according to a person familiar with the sources. talks. If supply is initially limited, updated doses may first be targeted to those most at risk, such as the elderly or immunocompromised.

This strategy could mirror that of the United Kingdom, which offers updated boosters next month people over the age of 50 and those whose jobs or health conditions put them at high risk. (The new UK boosters differ from those that will be offered in the US, in that they target the original omicron version, called BA.1, which circulated earlier this year.)

Speaking during a webinar with the United States Chamber of Commerce webinar on Tuesday, Jha said people, if they are eligible, should get a reminder now, and they should still be able to get the reminder. updated in a few months.

“My overall feeling is no reason to wait, go get it, even though we’re only weeks away” from the updated recall, he said.

Schaffner, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, agreed people shouldn’t wait, noting there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to get updated vaccines.

Levy, from Boston Children’s Hospital, said there was no downside to getting vaccinated now if he was eligible: “I think people should take advantage of it. We have safe and effective vaccines. Get vaccinate. That’s the main thing.”

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