According to the CDC, adults age 50 and older should get a second booster shot

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According to the CDC, adults age 50 and older should get a second booster shot

WASHINGTON — In a sign of growing concern from federal health officials about the spread of new coronavirus infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says all people age 50 and older should get a second booster shot if at least four months have passed since their first booster dose.

Previously, the agency said people aged 50 and older had the option of an additional vaccination, but only encouraged people over 65 or with underlying medical conditions to get them. The new guidance, published Thursday in a statement on the CDC’s website, also applies to people 12 and older with certain immune deficiencies.

The CDC said it was changing its advice due to a steady increase in infections over the past month coupled with “a precipitous and significant increase in hospital admissions for older Americans.” According to a New York Times database, new confirmed cases topped 100,000 a day again this week on average – a figure considered too low. And nationwide, the number of hospitalizations for people with Covid-19 averaged more than 23,800 a day as of Thursday, up 31 percent from two weeks ago.

Most Americans aged 50 and over received their last dose of the Covid vaccine more than six months ago. That has left “many who are at risk without the protection they may need to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death,” the CDC said.

In another warning about rising Covid risks, Dr. Rochelle P Walensky, said the agency’s director on Friday that more than 45 percent of Americans now live in areas where transmission rates are high enough that they should at least consider wearing a mask in indoor public places.

That was a significant jump from the data she had cited at a White House briefing just two days earlier. She said at the time about a third of Americans lived in counties with moderate to high virus transmission. That alone was already a big improvement; Only about a quarter of the population was in risk zones in the previous week, she said.

In a message published on Twitter on Friday, Dr. Walensky that those in high-risk areas – mainly in the Northeast – should wear masks in public. Those in intermediate-risk areas, which include counties in almost every state, should consider masks based on their assessment of their personal risks, she said.

Hospitalizations of patients with Covid are an important factor in the CDC’s assessment of a community’s risk. But other experts warned hospital data could be misleading, as patients may have been admitted for unrelated illnesses and merely tested positive at routine Covid checks.

“We currently have 11 people with Covid in our hospital,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, Physician of Infectious Diseases at San Francisco General Hospital. “Three of them have been hospitalized for Covid and the other eight have Covid up their noses and are there for other reasons.”

She said that in Massachusetts, a state with a high vaccination rate, officials estimate that up to 70 percent of hospital patients who test positive for the virus were admitted primarily for unrelated illnesses. However, coronavirus infections can also worsen underlying medical conditions that many Americans suffer from.

The death rate from Covid, while a lagging indicator, can be a more reliable measure of the extent of the disease’s impact because doctors said Dr. Gandhi and other experts to write the cause of death on the death certificate.

Recently, deaths have remained low. About 275 deaths were recorded every day for an average of seven days, said Dr. Walensky on Thursday. The number of new deaths has even fallen slightly in recent weeks. The total number of deaths in the United States surpassed one million as of Thursday, the highest confirmed total of any nation, according to the Times database.

People aged 50 and over have been eligible for a second booster since late March, but federal health officials have said too few people are benefiting. Only a quarter of those over 65 who received a booster dose, for example, received a second, CDC data shows.

dr Walensky also said this week that the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration are now discussing whether to expand the eligibility to include those under 50.

This week, authorities approved a booster shot of Pfizer’s BioNTech vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds, extending eligibility for a first booster dose to a younger age group. Among other factors cited in its decision memo, the FDA cited “the continued relaxation” of preventive measures, including mask requirements, social distancing, and isolating infected individuals.

The agency also pointed to the risk of a long covid, which “after initially being mildly infected, can cause significant morbidity.”

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