4.4 million Americans rolled up their sleeves for micron-targeted boosters


US health officials say 4.4 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves for an updated booster vaccination against COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the count Thursday as public health experts bemoaned President Joe Biden’s recent remark that the “pandemic is over.”

The White House said more than 5 million people had received the new stimulus, according to its own estimate, which takes into account reporting lags in states.

Health experts said it was too early to predict whether demand would match the 171 million doses of new stimulants the U.S. ordered for the fall.

“At this point, no one would look at our flu shot and say, ‘Oh, what a disaster,'” said Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “If we start to see a big increase in cases, I think we’re going to see a lot of people getting the (new COVID) vaccine.”

A temporary shortage of the Moderna vaccine has caused some pharmacies to cancel appointments while encouraging people to re-order the Pfizer vaccine. The problem is said to have been resolved after government regulators completed an inspection and approved batches of vaccine doses for distribution.

“I expect that to intensify in the coming weeks,” said White House COVID-19 Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. “We used to think and talk about it as an annual vaccine, like the flu shot. The flu season starts in late September and early October. We are just starting an educational campaign. So despite the fact that it’s been a strong start, we actually expect that to pick up.”

Some Americans who plan to get the vaccination, which targets the most common micron strains, said they are waiting because they either recently had COVID-19 or another booster drug. They follow public health advice to wait several months to take full advantage of their existing virus-fighting antibodies.

Others plan to shoot closer to holiday gatherings and the winter months, when respiratory viruses spread more easily.

Retired hospital chaplain Jeanie Murphy, 69, of Shawnee, Kansas, plans to get another boost in a few weeks after minor knee surgery. Interest among her neighbors is high based on what she sees on the Nextdoor app.

“There’s quite a bit of discussion going on among people who are willing to make appointments,” Murphy said. “I found that encouraging. For every opponent, there will be 10 or 12 people who will jump up and say, ‘You’re crazy. You just have to go get the shot.’”

Biden later acknowledged criticism of his remarks about the end of the pandemic, explaining that the pandemic “isn’t where it was.” The first comment didn’t bother Murphy. She is convinced that the disease has reached a stable state, when “in the fall we will be vaccinated against covid, the same as against the flu.”

Experts hope he’s right, but they’re waiting to see what infection rates winter brings. A summer low in the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths may be followed by another surge, Dowdy said.

dr. Asked by a panel of biodefense experts on Thursday what keeps him up at night, Anthony Fauci noted that half of vaccinated Americans never receive the initial booster dose.

“We have a vulnerability in our population that will continue to put us in a state of potential disruption to our social order,” Fauci said. “I think we have to do better as a nation.”

Some Americans who got the new vaccines said they were excited about the idea of ​​targeting the versions now circulating.

“Bring me all the science you can,” said Jeff Westling, 30, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., who received a new booster and flu shot Tuesday, one in each arm. He practices the martial sport of jujitsu, so he wants to protect himself from infections that can occur through close contact. “I have no problem trusting people whose job it is to review the evidence.”

Meanwhile, Biden’s statement in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday reverberated across social media.

“We still have problems with COVID. We are still working on it a lot. But the pandemic is over,” Biden said while walking around the Detroit auto show. “If you notice, nobody is wearing masks. They all seem to be in pretty good shape. And that’s why I think it’s changing.”

By Wednesday on Facebook, when the Kansas health department announced where residents could find the new booster shots, the first commenter scathingly remarked:

“But Biden says the pandemic is over.”

The president’s statement, despite his attempts to clarify it, adds to public confusion, said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington.

“People are not sure when is the right time to boost. “Am I eligible?” People are often confused about what is the right choice for them, even where to look for that information,” said Michaud.

“Anytime you have mixed messages, it’s detrimental to public health efforts,” Michaud said. “The mixed messages from the president’s remarks make this job that much more difficult.”

University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi said he worries the president’s statement has taken on a life of its own and could stall prevention efforts.

“This soundtrack has been out there for a while and it’s going to spread like wildfire. And it will give the impression that, ‘Oh, we don’t have to do anything else,'” Salemi said.

“If we’re happy with 400 or 500 people dying from covid every day, that’s a problem,” Salemi said. “We absolutely can do better because most, if not all, of these deaths are completely preventable with the tools we have.”

New York photographer Vivienne Gucwa, 44, got a new boost on Monday. She has had COVID twice, once before vaccines were available and again in May. She was vaccinated with two Modern vaccines, but never received the original booster shots.

“When I saw that the new booster could handle the omicron version, I thought, ‘I’m doing this,'” Gucwa said.

“I don’t want to deal with Omicron again. I was kind of excited to see the amps update.”


AP Medical writer Lauran Neergaard and AP White House correspondent Zeke Miller contributed. ___

The Associated Press Department of Health and Science is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.


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