CDC Approves COVID Boosters For All Adults

While there are growing concerns all over the world about a new Covid variant known as Omicron, health experts here are still urging calm and continuing to encourage as many Americans as possible to get vaccinated. Vaccines continue to prove effective against the virus, and there is no evidence yet that they will not protect us from the new strain of the virus. There is, though, some worry that the effectiveness of the vaccines begins to lessen over time, so older and immunocompromised patients have been eligible for booster doses for some time now. But now,  as health experts begin to focus on the severity of the new variant, the CDC has given the green light to administer Covid-19 vaccine boosters to all adults. 

a crowd of different colored silhouette of people
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices changed their policy on Covid-19 vaccines, allowing all adults to get booster shots.

The Expansion

At the end of October, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to change their policy on Covid-19 vaccines, approving booster shots for everyone, and not just for people 50 and older, or those who are immunocompromised. Now, the only requirements to receive a booster are that individuals must be 18 or older, and must be at least six months past their last dose of a two-dose vaccine, or two months past a single-shot vaccine. 

CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., said of the decision,  “After critical scientific evaluation, today’s unanimous decision carefully considered the current state of the pandemic, the latest vaccine effectiveness data over time, and review of safety data from people who have already received a COVID-19 primary vaccine series and booster. Booster shots have demonstrated the ability to safely increase people’s protection against infection and severe outcomes and are an important public health tool to strengthen our defenses against the virus as we enter the winter holidays. Based on the compelling evidence, all adults over 18 should now have equitable access to a COVID-19 booster dose.”

Who Should Get A Third Dose?

Individuals are still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but booster shots are recommended to increase protection, especially among people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe Covid. illustration of 3 vaccine shots and viruses above the shot

For most people, these boosters should be given 6 months after being fully vaccinated; those with moderately to severely compromised immune systems, or who are living in a long-term care setting, should receive a full dose of the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine at least 28 days after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. It is recommended that the third dose be from the same manufacturer as the first two, although the CDC has approved the mixing and matching of boosters.

For individuals who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, boosters shots are recommended for those who are 18 and older, and were vaccinated two or more months ago. 

As of now, no one knows what is going on with the new Covid variant Omicron, and there have been no cases detected in the U.S. yet,  but the CDC and health experts are urging Americans to continue to get vaccinated to better protect themselves and others.

A Pill That Treats Covid? What This Could Mean for the Fight Against the Virus

As the fight against Covid-19 continues, with vaccines and booster shots still being widely discussed, one drug maker is now testing an experimental pill to treat Covid. Merck’s pill has shown positive results for people already sick with Covid-19, reducing hospitalizations and deaths by half in initial trials! While many are hailing this as great news, experts like Dr. Fauci fear that it could further deter people from getting vaccinated

The Study

a di with a different number of heads on different sides.
Merck’s study showed that the pill reduced the hospitalization and death rate of participants who took the pill.

Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics have conducted a study tracking 775 adults with mild-to-moderate Covid-19 who were considered high risk due to comorbidities such as obesity, diabetes, or heart disease, to determine if their drug, Molnupiravir, is effective at treating Covid-19. Patients took 4 pills, twice a day, for five days, and early results showed that people who received the pill within 5 days of the onset of Covid symptoms had about half the rate of hospitalization and death, compared to people who were given a placebo pill. 

To be more exact, 7.3% of patients taking Molnupuravir were hospitalized at the end of 30 days, while 14.1% of patients taking the placebo pill faced the same result. At the end of the 30 days, there were no deaths among the people who took the pill, compared with 8 who died in the placebo group. Side effects were also more common among people who received the placebo pill. 

The pill works by interfering with the virus’ ability to copy its genetic code and reproduce itself. 

Will We Soon Be Treating Covid with a Pill?

Merck will be asking health officials in the U.S. and around the world to authorize the use of the pill. “This would allow us to treat many more people much more quickly and, we trust, much less expensively,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University who was not involved in the research.

If approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the drug would be available for distribution soon after.

The Importance of Vaccines

Although this pill could be the breakthrough many have been looking for to treat Covid, experts including Dr. Fauci are still stressing the importance of getting vaccinated. Dr. Fauci called the results “very good news;” however, he worried that people will see the drug as a miracle cure, resulting in fewer vaccinations. 

White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said that vaccination will remain the government’s main strategy for controlling the pandemic. “We want to prevent infections, not just wait to treat them when they happen,” he said. Andrew Pekosc of Johns Hopkins University agreed, stating “These shouldn’t be seen as replacements for vaccination — the two should be seen as two strategies that can be used together to significantly reduce severe disease.”multiple covid vials with needles lined up in front of them

The FDA is also continuing to focus on vaccines and booster shots for now. They are currently still deciding on whether to recommend a third shot for those who have received the 2-dose regimen of the Pfizer vaccine, saying in a briefing document, “Some observational studies have suggested declining efficacy of COMIRNATY (Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine) over time against symptomatic infection or against the Delta variant, while others have not.” 

3 key vaccine dates that the FDA will be focusing on:

  • October 14- An advisory panel discussed Moderna’s request to recommend booster shots for people ages 18 and older.
  • October 15- The panel discussed whether those who got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine need a booster.
  • October 26- The panel will discuss Pfizer’s data on its vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

Biden Announces Widespread Covid Vaccine Mandate

The Delta variant, first detected in India last October, is the most dominant strain of the coronavirus in America today, accounting for most of the recent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths among the unvaccinated. Because there are still around 80 million people in the country who are unvaccinated, President Biden has begun more aggressively confronting the anti-vaccine movement in order to get the virus under control. On Thursday, September 9, President Biden announced policies that will require most federal employees to get vaccinated, and urged other employers, especially those in healthcare settings, to mandate the vaccine or require weekly testing. The new mandates could apply to as many as 100 million Americans. 

The Reason For The New Mandatesline graph with the line going upward and a red virus in the background

According to Biden, roughly 80 million Americans are unvaccinated, which is about 25% of the population. “That 25% can cause a lot of damage, and they are,” Biden said. “The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals, are overrunning the emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack, or [pancreatitis], or cancer.” 

He reiterated the effectiveness of the Covid vaccine, saying “I want to emphasize that the vaccines provide very strong protection from severe illness of Covid-19. The world’s leading scientists confirm that if you are fully vaccinated, your risk of severe illness from Covid-19 is very low.” He also pointed out that it is mainly the unvaccinated who are dying from the virus. 

But since some people are refusing to get the vaccine, and some elected officials are “keeping us from turning a corner,” Biden has come up with a new plan, including vaccine mandates to “reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans, decrease hospitalizations and deaths, allow children to go to school safely, and keep our economy strong by keeping businesses open.”

The New Employee Mandate

covid vaccine vial with a needle next to it and vaccine card
Federal employees will have 75 days to get vaccinated and provide proof, or face termination.

President Biden now hopes to convince those who are vaccine hesitant or resistant to get the vaccine by taking punitive action. “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said. So, the first part of his plan is to use an emergency provision in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which will allow him to withhold federal funding from hospitals and other healthcare organizations. He is also asserting his power over the federal workforce and even private companies who employ more than 100 people. 

Federal workers will now have 75 days to get vaccinated, or they will face termination, unless they have a legitimate reason for vaccine exemption. And if businesses do not comply with the mandates, the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plans to fine them around $14,000 per violation. “Each employer will decide exactly what they want to do, but what we’re saying through the Department of Labor rule-making process is a minimum of testing once a week or full vaccination,” a senior administration official said.

Other Measures To Tackle The Virus

The Biden Administration is also calling on all governors to require teachers and school staff to get vaccinated, saying it’s the best way to protect young children under 12, who cannot currently get the vaccine. They are also calling on all entertainment venues to require tests or proof of vaccination, and have also made clear that the Transportation Safety Administration will be increasing fines for people who fail to wear masks on airplanes, trains, and buses. 

More Testingcovid test tube with a swab next to it and green gloves.

Some critics have claimed that Biden has not done enough on testing, so the next part of his plan is to use the Defense Production Act to accelerate the production of free tests: the administration is planning to send 25 million free tests to U.S. health clinics, and expand at-home tests to be sold at Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger. 

Booster Shots

Booster shots are also in the cards for those who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines: a third shot is currently being offered to a limited number of people, but the White House plans to offer them to more of the population as soon as the week of September 20 in “tens of thousands of sites across the country, and for most Americans at nearby drug stores for free.”


Almost immediately after Biden’s announcement, the Republican National Committee said it would bring legal challenges against any mandates. When asked about the legal threats Biden said, “Have at it. I am so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities.”