The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its COVID-19 vaccine booster recommendations on Monday to include all adults, regardless of health status or occupation, as uncertainty surrounding the newly detected omicron variant swells.
“The recent emergence of the omicron variant (B.1.1.529) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a prepared statement, noting early data on the emergent variant suggests increased transmissibility.
“I strongly encourage the 47 million adults who are not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to vaccinate the children and teens in their families as well because strong immunity will likely prevent serious illness,” added Walensky. “I also want to encourage people to get a COVID-19 test if they are sick. Increased testing will help us identify Omicron quickly.”
Specifically, the CDC is now urging all adults to seek COVID-19 boosters six months after the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech’s or Moderna’s vaccine or two months after the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Previously, the CDC said people should get a booster if they are 50 and older, or 18 and older and living in a long-term care facility. Otherwise, it advised that anyone 18 and older may get a booster. Now the word “should” applies to everyone 18 and older.
On Monday, President Joe Biden called the new coronavirus variant a cause for concern but “not a cause for panic.”
He urged Americans to get fully vaccinated, including booster shots, and return to wearing face masks indoors while in public settings to slow any spread.
Speaking at the White House, Biden said it was inevitable that the new variant would reach the U.S., but he also said the country has the tools necessary to protect Americans — particularly the approved vaccines and booster shots.