With updated Omicron booster shots soon available, the White House wants to make getting a COVID-19 booster shot as routine as getting the annual flu shot.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration hopes to make a COVID-19 booster shot as routine as the annual flu shot.
This is at the heart of his campaign to sell the newly authorized shot to an American public that has largely rejected COVID-19 boosters since they first became available last fall.
Shots of the updated boosters, specifically designed by Pfizer and Moderna to respond to the Omicron strain, could begin within days. The US government has bought 170 million doses and says everyone will have free access to the booster.
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White House COVID-19 Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said this latest round of vaccinations will provide protection during the busy cold and flu season, hoping to push people to get the vaccine annually. Typically At least half of US adults get a flu shot.
“We expect them to provide more durable protection over time,” Jha said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday. “The goal is very much to get to a point where people get their COVID shots regularly, just as they get their flu shots.”
Community health workers in North Carolina, home of the country’s lowest COVID-19 refresher rate, like the strategy, particularly because of some people’s confusion about vaccination schedules.
“I believe in keeping things simple,” said Marty Stamey, an outreach coordinator at the Mountain Area Health Education Center in western North Carolina. “I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘I think I’ll just wait and try to do it like the flu shot.'”
The White House plan also relies in part on local health departments, providers and community groups to reach out and encourage people to get the updated booster. Pharmacies, health care providers and state or local health officials are preparing to send text messages to millions of people encouraging them to get a booster this fall, White House officials said.
Jha said he recommends most Americans get the refresher by the end of October.
Still, this latest vaccination campaign faces several challenges.
A The majority of Americans received their first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine when it released last year, but they’ve been more reluctant to get a booster jab, with less than half getting their first booster since it became available late last year.
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Congress also failed to advance President Joe Biden’s $22.5 billion request Earlier this year for COVID-19 response. Republicans have criticized the motion, citing the $1.9 trillion already spent responding to the pandemic. With funds running out, the government announced it would stop sending COVID-19 tests to people’s homes after Friday.
And COVID-19 funding is drying up for many of the community groups that have received millions in federal taxpayer money to hire workers who have spent months with door knockers, mobile vaccine clinics and posters urging people to take action against COVID-19 vaccinate, penetrate deep into the neighborhood.
White House officials say these local leaders deserve much credit for rooting out misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine and convincing many across the country that the shot will protect them.
“Those are the really critical messengers,” Jha said.
This field work has been critical in immunizing people in the rural, Spanish- and Haitian-speaking communities that the Migrant Clinicians Network’s $8.5 million federal grant has reached across Texas, California and Maryland.
“Vaccine availability is one thing, but getting your hands on the shots is another,” said Amy Liebman, program director for the nonprofit group.
Also some of these local health organizations are now overwhelmed as they work to get low Vaccination rates in children under 12 years of age upwards. Just a third of 5- to 11-year-olds have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine since they became eligible late last year. In the meantime 7% of children under 5 years old have since had a first dose was made available this summer.
dr Niharika Khanna of the University of Maryland School of Medicine has just begun convincing new mothers that the vaccine is safe and effective for their babies.
Their program, which has hired more than 269 health workers and administered more than 12,000 immunizations and boosters in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, is not quite ready to transition back to rolling out COVID-19 boosters.
“All of these people, all of these relationships that we’ve carefully nurtured are in danger of falling apart,” Khanna said. “If you were to tell me today to switch to Booster, I would say no. I still need two to three weeks to really get these people going.”
https://www.kvue.com/article/news/nation-world/white-house-to-encourage-covid-boosters-this-fall/507-522299cc-c7ef-4053-8360-672ebc5723f4 White House encourages COVID boosters, flu shots this fall