The Biden administration remains concerned not enough Americans have received updated COVID-19 booster vaccinations, despite new data showing an increase in jab rates across the country in recent weeks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday about 19.3 million Americans have received updated vaccinations targeting the omicron variant of the virus since they were released in early September. That figure accounts for just 10% of those eligible for the new shots and comes amid warnings of yet another surge in cases as the country enters the winter holiday period.
“This is really important progress, but it’s not enough,” a Biden administration official told CNN. “We need everyone to step up and get their updated vaccine as soon as possible.”
The CDC has recommended everyone over the age of 12 get an updated booster, as long as at least two months have passed since their previous jab. Those recently infected with the virus should wait until their symptoms abate, or can delay the shot for about three months, the agency says.
The White House has urged Americans, especially those vulnerable to severe illness, to get the new Pfizer or Moderna shots. Dr. Ashish Jha, who leads the White House COVID-19 task force, said Monday that doing so could literally “save your life.”
“If you’re over 50, certainly if you’re over 65, you’ve got to go get these vaccines,” Jha told Yahoo Finance this week, adding people should try and get inoculated by Halloween to be protected by Thanksgiving. “It’s a difference between life and death.”
Last week, Jha added: “If you are up to date with your vaccines and if you get treated if you have a breakthrough infection, your risk of dying from COVID is now close to zero.”
The CDC’s independent advisory board voted unanimously to add most COVID-19 vaccines to the childhood, adolescent and adult immunization schedules this week. The schedules are updated every year and formalize recommendations already circulating that Americans stay up to date on their coronavirus jabs.
The omicron variant of the virus still remains dominant in the U.S., but scientists have warned new strains could cause renewed waves of infections.