WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s administration is launching a renewed push for COVID-19 booster shots. As the BA.5 variant spreads across the country, those who are eligible are advised of the enhanced protections they offer against serious illness.
These programs include direct outreach to high-risk groups, especially seniors, encouraging them to get “up to date” on their vaccinations with phone calls, emails and new public service announcements.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all Americans age 5 and older should get a booster five months after their primary primary series. It also says people 50 and older — or those with weakened immune systems — should get a second booster four months after their first. According to the CDC, one million eligible Americans did not receive their first booster, and of those over 50 who received their first booster, only 30% received their second booster.
The CDC released a “Booster Calculator” To help people decide when to get a booster shot.
Biden, who received his second booster shot in March, tested positive for the virus last week and recovered after experiencing mild symptoms for five days.
“Due to the rise of the Omicron BA.5 variant, it is imperative that Americans stay up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations — with booster shots — to achieve the highest possible level of protection,” the White House said. COVID-19 About 366 people are killed every day in the US, the vast majority of whom are not up to date on their vaccinations. The administration says most of those deaths are preventable.
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In May, according to the CDC, before the BA.5 variant became dominant in the US, people over 50 with a single booster shot were four times more likely to die of COVID-19 than those with two or more booster doses. .
“Currently, many Americans are under-vaccinated, meaning they are not up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said earlier this month. “Keeping up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines provides the best protection against serious outcomes.”
As part of the new booster push, pharmacies in the federal pharmacy program will reach out to those eligible for another booster dose, the White House said. It said Walgreens makes more than 600,000 phone calls and sends nearly 9 million emails to people encouraging them to get Rite Aid shots.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will also reach out to 600 nursing homes that report booster uptake rates below 80% to provide additional federal support, including on-site clinics and dispatch of medical providers and infectious disease specialists. shots. CMS emails booster reminders to the 16 million people who receive their Medicare emails and has added a booster reminder message to its 1-800-MEDICARE call-in line.
The US Department of Health and Human Services also continues to run PSAs promoting boosters during commercial breaks on shows with significant viewership among seniors, such as “NCIS Hawaii,” “Good Morning America,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “48 Hours.”