Biden hails booster shots as next level in pandemic protection

WASHINGTON —

The morning after health officials approved the first round of booster shots to prevent coronavirus infections, President Biden said a third dose of the vaccine will provide the “highest level of protection to date.”

“We have the tools to beat COVID-19 if we come together as a country and use the tools that we have,” he said at the White House.

A panel of advisors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday approved Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for elderly Americans and others with health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. The panel rejected a request to give boosters to those at greater risk due to their jobs (e.g., employees of grocery stores and healthcare). But Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, reversed their decision and approved shots to be given to such workers.

“I believe we can best serve the nation’s public health needs by providing booster doses for the elderly, those in long-term care facilities, people with underlying medical conditions, and for adults at high risk of disease from occupational and institutional exposures to COVID-19,” Walensky said in a statement.

People are eligible for a third shot six month after they have had their first. Biden stated that he will soon be receiving his booster shot.

“It’s hard to acknowledge that I’m over 65,” joked Biden, who is 78.

Asked about Americans who are receiving boosters before they’re eligible, Biden said people should “wait your turn.”

He suggested that regulators could eventually expand the number of people who can get a third dose. Despite Americans wanting boosters, Biden still struggles to get people to get their first shots. He recently expanded vaccine requirements in hopes of pressuring more people to get inoculated.

According to federal statistics, 75% of eligible Americans have received at least one dose, and 64% are considered fully vaccinated.

People without protection from COVID-19 can “cause an awful lot of damage,” Biden said.

” The unvaccinated crowd our hospitals, running emergency rooms and intensive care units. This leaves no room for anyone needing life-saving care, such as someone suffering from a heart attack or cancer.

In coming months, regulators could approve Pfizer’s vaccine for children as young as 5 years old.

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