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‘Don’t wait’ to get new Covid vaccine, says White House

The Biden administration is pushing hard to get the Covid vaccine up to date before what could be another fall surge of the virus as children return to classrooms and employees return to the workplace.

Plans include purchasing more than 170 million doses of the new boosters, which will be available to consumers at no out-of-pocket cost.

“We want Americans to know that the vaccine is here and that they shouldn’t wait” to receive it, a senior administration official told NBC News on Thursday.

The plans call for schools across the United States to hold at least one vaccination clinic before Thanksgiving, as well as university-led vaccination drives this fall.

“Fortunately we are at a point where Covid does not rule our lives today,” the official said, but “we have to remain vigilant.”

Overall, Covid cases are down in the US, down 23.1% in the last two weeks, according to data from NBC News. But some experts worry that with cooler weather and an increase in indoor gatherings, the trend will reverse.

The number of new Covid cases has increased among children by 14% in recent weeks, according to the latest data from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Biden administration is also suggesting that updated Covid vaccines will be available annually, just like the annual flu shot.

Comprehensive coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic

There is hope that, armed with new vaccines, the coming fall and winter won’t lead to the surge in Covid seen in previous years, said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease expert and associate professor of medicine at the University of California College of Medicine. Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

“There is an effort here that we can double down before winter, when respiratory viruses tend to cause more problems,” Wolfe said.

“If that leaves us with half the number of people who get infected and need to take 4, 5, 6 days off work, there is a social and economic gain,” he said. “That’s pretty deep.”

The new boosters from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech target the highly contagious omicron BA.5 subvariant as well as the parent strain of the coronavirus. The subvariant now accounts for more than 88% of new cases in the country.

Pfizer’s updated vaccine is licensed for people 12 and older, while Moderna’s is licensed for adults only.

The administration is also pressing Congress to approve an additional $22.4 billion in Covid funding. Without more funding, the official said, this could be the “last free vaccine” against covid.

“The simplest message from the president is: don’t wait. Get vaccinated against covid this fall,” the senior administration official said. “Covid is not over.”

To follow NBC HEALTH in Twitter & Facebook.

Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed.


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