Health Officials Recommend Spring COVID-19 Booster for Older Adults

Second booster appropriate as long as at least four months have passed since last COVID-19 shot
Health Officials Recommend Spring COVID-19 Booster for Older Adults
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THURSDAY, Feb. 29, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health officials are recommending that older Americans get a COVID-19 vaccine dose this spring even if they received a booster last fall.

The latest guidance, voted on by a vaccine advisory panel and endorsed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states that a second booster is fine as long as at least four months have passed since a patient's last COVID-19 shot.

"Today's recommendation allows older adults to receive an additional dose of this season's COVID-19 vaccine to provide added protection," CDC Director Mandy Cohen, M.D., said in an agency statement announcing the new recommendation. "Most COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations last year were among people 65 years and older. An additional vaccine dose can provide added protection that may have decreased over time for those at highest risk."

So far, this season's COVID-19 booster has proved 54 percent effective against infection with the predominant COVID-19 variant, known as JN.1.

"Data continues to show the importance of vaccination to protect those most at risk for severe outcomes of COVID-19," the CDC said. "An additional dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine may restore protection that has waned since a fall vaccine dose, providing increased protection to adults ages 65 years and older."

COVID-19 is still a serious disease: There are more than 20,000 hospitalizations and more than 2,000 deaths each week due to the coronavirus, according to the CDC. And people 65 years and older have the highest hospitalization and death rates, the data show.

"Adults 65 years and older are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, with more than half of COVID-19 hospitalizations during October 2023 to December 2023 occurring in this age group," the CDC noted, adding that people who are immunocompromised are already eligible for additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

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