The Biden administration plans to announce a new strategy to combat the rising threat of the coronavirus variants by urging all Americans to get a booster shot for the COVID-19 vaccine this autumn, according to a White House official.
Why boosters are needed
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the boosters are needed to enhance the protection against the new variants of the virus, especially the XBB.1.5 subvariant, which has been detected in several countries and is more transmissible and resistant to some vaccines. The official said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are reporting an increase in infections and hospital admissions from the virus, but overall levels remain low.
The official said that the boosters will be available for all Americans who have completed their primary vaccination course, regardless of which vaccine they received. The official added that the boosters will be free of charge and accessible at various locations, such as pharmacies, clinics, and mobile units.
How boosters work
The boosters are designed to stimulate the immune system to produce more antibodies and memory cells that can recognize and fight off the virus. The boosters are based on the same technology as the original vaccines, but they have been updated to target the specific variants that are circulating.
The official said that the boosters have been tested in clinical trials and have shown to be safe and effective against the variants. The official cited the data from Moderna, one of the COVID-19 vaccine makers, which said on Thursday that its updated vaccine is effective against the “Eris” and “Fornax” subvariants in humans. Moderna and other COVID-19 vaccine makers Novavax, Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE have created versions of their shots aimed at the XBB.1.5 subvariant.
When boosters will be available
The official said that the boosters will be available in the coming weeks, pending approval from health regulators in the United States and Europe. The official said that the administration will follow the recommendations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC on when and how to administer the boosters.
The official said that the administration will launch a public awareness campaign to inform Americans about the benefits and safety of the boosters. The official said that the administration will also coordinate with state and local authorities, health care providers, and community organizations to ensure a smooth and equitable distribution of the boosters.
What else to do
The official said that getting a booster shot is not a substitute for following other public health measures, such as wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands, and avoiding large gatherings. The official said that these measures are still necessary to prevent the spread of the virus and protect those who are not vaccinated or immunocompromised.
The official also said that getting a flu shot and an RSV shot is also important, as these respiratory illnesses can cause complications for COVID-19 patients. The official said that the administration will be encouraging all Americans to get these shots in addition to the COVID-19 boosters.
The official said that the administration is committed to ending the pandemic and restoring normalcy in the country. The official said that getting a booster shot is a simple and effective way to protect oneself and others from the virus.