US: We won’t beat Covid with booster, says CDC on 70m unvaccinated

Three-quarters of eligible Americans received at least one dose of vaccine Against the Covid-19, and some may now receive a booster dose. But the virus still poses a major threat to the more than 70 million eligible people who remain unvaccinated.

“The most vulnerable are the unvaccinated,” said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the USA, on Friday (24).

On Friday, the CDC approved a third dose of the vaccine from to do against Covid-19 for an expanded group of Americans.

“As of today, if six months have passed since your last dose of Pfizer vaccine, you will be eligible for a booster if you are in one of three high-risk groups,” said US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy , during an interview.

“First group: those aged 65 and over. Second, if you have a medical condition that puts you at high risk for serious illness with Covid -19, those conditions include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, and others. Third: anyone who works or lives in a location where they are at high risk of exposure to Covid-19. This includes health professionals, teachers, people living in shelters or prisons and market workers,” said Murthy.

At booster doses have not yet been approved for the two other vaccines offered in the United States – Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Health authorities are working to determine the next steps for those who have received these vaccines.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “is working with Moderna and J&J to obtain and process their data as quickly as possible with the goal of making reinforcing recommendations for Moderna and J&J recipients in the coming weeks” said Murthy.

Walensky acknowledged that even as more Americans become eligible for Pfizer’s booster dose, the country must increase numbers of first-dose vaccinations for the pandemic to subside.

“I want to be clear: we are not going to get out of this pandemic with just booster shots,” she said on Friday.

The US had fully vaccinated more than 55% of all residents by Friday, CDC data show, while 75% of those eligible for the vaccine had received at least one dose of the immunizer.

A recent review of CNN showed that the average death rate from Covid-19 in the 10 least vaccinated states was more than four times higher last week than the rate in the 10 most vaccinated states.

CDC vaccine consultants recommended that Pfizer’s booster doses should be made available to people over 65 and those with health risks – not including those who may be disproportionately exposed to the virus in their jobs.

But Walensky came to consider the occupational exposure group in his orientation.

“Some people actually voted … with enthusiasm to say that our healthcare professionals, our frontline employees, people who were vaccinated early, people who work in congregational settings, in correctional institutions, market workers, really deserve the vaccine.” Walensky told CNN on Friday.

“The question wasn’t ‘yes or no’, the question was ‘wait or do it now,’” she added.

Ultimately, the decision for the booster dose was about “providing rather than withholding access,” and the need to protect society as a whole, Walensky said.

Pfizer booster shots are ready

Booster shots are now available, with CVS Health announcing on Friday that nearly 6,000 of its locations have begun offering dates to apply a third dose of Pfizer’s vaccine.

Those who choose to take the booster dose will be asked to “self-certify their eligibility” as outlined by public health officials, CVS said. They must also have received the previous two doses from Pfizer.

At CaliforniaLos Angeles County also began on Friday to offer booster shots to residents who present proof of vaccination and confirm their eligibility, the county’s public health department said in a press release.

Many schools were closed due to Covid-19 outbreaks, according to a study.

The headaches faced by employees of schools and parents were highlighted in a study released Friday on the pandemic’s impact to date on face-to-face learning.

About 1,800 schools closed between Aug. 1 and Sept. 17 because Covid-19 cases were detected, which affected the education and well-being of 933,000 students, according to the CDC study.

Nearly 60,000 teachers in 44 states were also affected by the closures, and the number was highest in the south of the country, the study found.

Looking at data from 8,700 districts across the country, the CDC study found that “the greatest number of districts with total remote education (14) were in the western region, followed by the south (11). Seven midwestern districts and two northeastern districts offered full remote learning.”

The study noted that return-to-school time may be a factor in closure, because schools in the south returned earlier in August than in other parts of the country – which typically occurred in late August or early September.

The Covid-19 outbreaks forced the closure of 300 schools in Tennessee, the study shows, noting that it was the largest in the country — followed by Georgia, Kentucky, Texas and South Carolina.

The CDC recommends that people in schools wear masks, even if they are vaccinated, as well as being tested and physically distancing themselves to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

(This is a translated text, click here to read the original in English)