Covid-19 Mixed Messaging Continues As US Enters Booster Era

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Unlike the overwhelming anxiety that defined spring 2020 or the hope that accompanied the start of the U.S. vaccination campaign late last year, fall 2021 has been more confusing: some Americans are returning to work or class, while others returning to the office have been postponed until the New Year. At the root of it all are questions about boosters: who should get one and when? But Friday went a long way in bringing some clarity: the era of pandemic reminder has arrived.

The director of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, on Friday approved the use of boosters of the Covid-19 vaccine for all adults.

Walensky made his recommendation just hours after CDC vaccine advisers voted unanimously to recommend booster doses of Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines for all U.S. adults six months after completing their first two doses. The United States Food and Drug Administration cleared the boosters for all people 18 and older as of Friday.

“Just get out there and get boosted,” Dr Anthony Fauci told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday on “State of the Union”. “We know they’re safe and we know they’re very effective at maximizing your protection very, very high. So go ahead and give yourself a boost. Now is the time to do that. the holiday season is approaching. “

It’s all in simplicity. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re eligible for a reminder. Previously, boosters were allowed for anyone 65 years of age and over who had been vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least six months ago and for certain adults at high risk of infection or serious illness.

Friday’s vote simplified that, clarifying that every adult should or could be given a booster six months after completing the first two doses.

What motivated the decision? Data! Recent real-world studies have suggested that immunity to Covid-19 vaccines is starting to wane and that protection against more mild and asymptomatic illnesses, in particular, may drop. Studies have shown that booster doses restore this immunity.

Members of the CDC’s advisory committee on immunization practices heard safety data from the CDC, Pfizer and Moderna that showed the boosters did not cause worrying adverse events. The most common reactions are pain at the injection site, headache, and fatigue.

Have we waited too long? With cases already on the rise and colder months ahead, news of the recall’s approval has been welcomed by public health experts who have always made it clear that it could have come sooner.

A sample:

  • “I’ve been saying since January that Pfizer / Moderna are 3-dose vaccines,” Dr Peter Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, tweeted.
  • “It took way too long,” CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner tweeted.
  • “Our rules for boosters are far too complicated. Winter is approaching. Every adult (from 6 months old) should go for the third shot,” said Dr Ashish Jha, dean of the faculty of public health. from Brown University, noted before the approval came on Friday.
Three hits and it’s done? It is too early to tell. A bit of background from CNN’s Maggie Fox: It’s possible that, as with vaccines like the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, after the first few doses are eliminated, people can expect to be immune for life.

Doctors hope that the booster six months after the initial dose will provide much longer lasting immunity than giving two quick doses a few weeks apart – although they agree that this was 100% the right approach for one. new vaccine used at the start of a pandemic.

It is also too early to know if the immunity could wane after months or years. And it’s too early to know if a new variant could emerge and spread that escapes the protection offered by a vaccine and, as with flu shots every year, the formula may need to be changed to protect against the virus. amended.

“We’re going to see right away how durable the booster is. We’re going to track the people who are boosted,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Bash on Sunday. “It will be guided by science – and people shouldn’t be put off by the fact that over time we learn more and more about protection than we might change the guidelines.”

What happens after? If we are truly living in what will be considered the “reminder era” of the pandemic, it is natural to wonder what might be the next step.

Right now, the pills from Pfizer and Merck are arguing for being the next big thing, and officials in the Biden administration are optimistic about antivirals playing an important role in limiting deaths from the pandemic. .

Pfizer says its pill, which it offers to sell under the brand name Paxlovid if approved, reduced the risk of death or hospitalization by 89% in people who contracted it within three days of onset of symptoms, according to his interim analysis. Merck claims that its capsule, molnupiravir, reduced the risk by about 50%.

“I see them as a double blow. Vaccines are prevention. These antivirals are early treatment. Both have utility,” Dr. William Schaffner, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt, told CNN. University School of Medicine. this month. “Neither one is a substitute for the other.

Are you traveling this week?

You’re not alone! The number of people flying for Thanksgiving will “undoubtedly” break air travel records in the era of the pandemic, TSA administrator David Pekoske told CNN.

“The pandemic record currently stands at around 2.2 million people (in a single day) and I would expect we would definitely surpass it,” Pekoske said. Already, the TSA announced that it had screened more than 2.2 million people on Friday.

If that sounds overwhelming, the CNN Travel team have come up with a few ways to travel safely.

Try to fly outside of opening hours and on less busy days. If you can travel to and from your destination on less busy travel days, you and your family will meet fewer people and may be more successful at social distancing, said Linsey Marr, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, who is a leading expert in the transmission of viruses by aerosol.

Reserve window seats. Experts suggest reserving window seats for children (or adults) who are not vaccinated, in part because of the air vents along the interior panels of most planes.

“We think the least risky seat is the window seat, because the airflow models may be better for the window seat,” said Marr.

Wear high-quality, well-fitting filtration masks. Invest in a high-quality mask for travel, one that will trap around 95% of virus-sized particles when properly fitted to the face, experts say. Fit is key, Marr said, as is comfort. Look for a mask that fits every face and is comfortable enough that you or your child can wear it for hours.

Stay in your seat if you can. Getting up and moving brings you closer to others on the plane, who may or may not be vaccinated or who follow the advice of the mask. While the risk of Covid-19 from such exposures may be low, there are other concerns.


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