Covid Live Updates: Omicron News, Vaccines and More

credit…Meredith Kohut for The New York Times

The Biden administration has largely responded to the near-vertical rise in coronavirus cases by pressuring more people not only to get their initial doses of the vaccine, but also to get their booster doses.

This week, federal health officials endorsed the boosters for 12- to 17-year-olds who initially received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The government also changed the definition of “modern” vaccination for the Covid virus to include boosters.

But even as the United States moves quickly to expand who is eligible for the boosters, progress has stalled in persuading Covid-exhausted Americans to get them.

About 62 percent of Americans — about 206 million people — have been fully vaccinated, according to federal data. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) database, only about 35 percent of Americans have received a booster dose since mid-August, when additional doses were first allowed, even as eligibility expanded dramatically.

On November 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved boosters for everyone 18 years of age or older who received two doses of Moderna and Pfizer, and on December 9, it approved boosters for Pfizer for children ages 16 to 17.

These changes led to more Americans getting boosters, according to the federal database, but that has since stabilized.

After the discovery of the Omicron variant in late November, the pace of all vaccinations accelerated, but peaked in early December, and then stabilized. (Reporting delays around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years affected daily numbers throughout this period.)

Omicron, which is highly transmissible, has been shown to be better at avoiding vaccines than other variants. But scientists say the booster injection can offer significant protection, especially against severe disease.

The average number of staggering cases in the US is 585,000 per day, a record high and a 247 percent increase from the past two weeks. Hospitalizations are rising more slowly, up 53 percent in the past two weeks, and a smaller proportion of patients are disembarking in intensive care units or needing mechanical ventilation, compared to those in previous waves. Mortality decreased by 3 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention went further in encouraging the booster injections on Wednesday, when health officials recommended that people get three doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to stay updated. The agency also recommended that recipients of a single dose of Johnson & Johnson receive a second dose, preferably Moderna or Pfizer.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle B. Walinsky, in an interview on Tuesday: “There’s no argument here about what people should be doing.” “If they qualify for a payment, they should get it.”

However, the expansion of the booster shot’s eligibility has not been met by the same amount of demand. Dr. Rebecca E.G., the former Secretary of Health of Louisiana, has demonstrated resistance to boosting agents to pandemic fatigue.

Referring to the epidemic’s many problems, Dr. Ji said that some people simply “don’t want this to exist” and are trying to “get rid of it”.

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