US CDC urges adults 50 and older to get 2nd booster as Covid-19 cases rise

The CDC said it was changing its advice because of a steady rise in infections over the past month. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - In a sign of growing concern among US health officials about the spread of new coronavirus infections, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is now saying that all people 50 or older should get a second booster shot if at least four months have passed since their first booster dose.

Previously, the agency said those 50 and older had the option of the additional shot but only encouraged people older that 65 or with underlying medical conditions to get it.

The new guidance, issued in a statement on the CDC's website on Thursday (May 19), also extends to anyone 12 and older with certain immune deficiencies.

The CDC said it was changing its advice because of a steady rise in infections over the past month, coupled with "a steep and substantial increase in hospitalisations for older Americans."

New confirmed cases surpassed an average of 100,000 a day again this week, according to a New York Times database - a number considered an undercount.

And nationally, hospitalisations of people with Covid-19 were averaging more than 23,800 daily as of Thursday, 31 per cent more than two weeks ago.

Most Americans 50 or older received their last dose of Covid-19 vaccine more than six months ago. That has left "many who are vulnerable without the protection they may need to prevent severe disease, hospitalisation and death," the CDC said.

In another warning of growing Covid1-19 risks, Dr Rochelle Walensky, the agency's director, said on Friday that more that 45 per cent of Americans now live in areas where transmission rates are high enough that they should at least consider wearing a mask in indoor public settings.

That was a substantial jump from the data she cited just two days earlier at a White House briefing. She said then that about one-third of Americans lived in counties with medium to high levels of virus transmission. That itself was a big increase; only about one-fourth of the population fell into risk zones the previous week, she said.

In a message posted Friday on Twitter, Dr Walensky said those in high-risk areas - largely in the Northeast - should wear masks indoors in public. Those in medium-risk areas should consider masks based on their assessment of their personal risks, she said.

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