Feb 28, 2024 - Health

Older adults should get another COVID shot this spring, CDC says

Illustration of a syringe as a rocket propelling through the atmosphere

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

People 65 and over should receive a second shot of the updated COVID-19 vaccine this spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

Why it matters: A second shot could offer updated protection for an age group that remains at highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

What happened: An independent panel of vaccine advisers to the CDC voted 11-1 earlier on Wednesday to approve the additional dose for seniors, with one member abstaining.

  • CDC director Mandy Cohen endorsed the recommendation hours later.
  • Seniors who are at least four months removed from their last shot could get a booster from Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax.
  • People who are immunocompromised have already been able to receive additional doses of the updated shot. These patients and seniors have been eligible for springtime boosters in previous years.

Before the vote, members debated whether the wording of the recommendation should be seniors "may" or "should" get the shots, and settled on "should."

By the numbers: About 42% of people 65 and older so far have received the updated shot that became available in September. That's about double the rate for all adults (22%), according to CDC data.

  • Seniors accounted for two-thirds of hospitalizations from COVID-19 between October and January as cases surged nationwide, according to data presented at Wednesday's meeting.
  • The latest shots are 54% effective in preventing symptomatic infection, early CDC data released this month suggest.

Editor's note: This story was updated with the CDC director's endorsement of the committee's recommendation.

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