US slowly rolls COVID boosters out; 4.4M Americans roll up sleeves
Officials say that 4.4 million Americans have received updated bivalent COVID booster shots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the count Thursday and the White House said that, by its own estimate accounting for reporting lags, 5 million people had gotten the omicron-targeting vaccine.
Health experts have said it is too soon to predict whether demand would meet the 171 million doses ordered for the fall.
The government said it had shipped 25 million shots, mostly from Pfizer and BioNTech.
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A temporary shortage of Moderna vaccine caused some pharmacies to cancel appointments.
In addition, some Americans said they would wait to get the shot because they either had recently gotten a booster or had been infected with SARS-CoV-2 recently.
CDC guidance says people who recently had COVID-19 may consider delaying a primary series or booster dose by three months from symptom onset or positive test.
“Studies have shown that increased time between infection and vaccination may result in an improved immune response to vaccination. Also, a low risk of reinfection has been observed in the weeks to months following infection,” the agency says. “Individual factors such as risk of COVID-19 severe disease, COVID-19 community level, or characteristics of the predominant SARS-CoV-2 strain should be taken into account when determining whether to delay getting a COVID-19 vaccination after infection.”
Others plan to wait until closer to the holidays and winter months when respiratory viruses are more easily transmitted.
“I do expect this to pick up in the weeks ahead,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said. “We’ve been thinking and talking about this as an annual vaccine like the flu vaccine. Flu vaccine season picks up in late September and early October. We’re just getting our education campaign going. So we expect to see, despite the fact that this was a strong start, we actually expect this to ramp up stronger.”
When the U.S. first authorized COVID-19 boosters for older and immunocompromised people, nearly 10 million people received the shot in the first three weeks.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, there have been 85,160 new cases in the U.S. and 450 new deaths.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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