CDC expands Covid-19 booster advice amid Omicron scare

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has encouraged all American adults to get a booster shot of the Covid-19 vaccine citing the “increased transmissibility” of the Omicron variant of the virus.

“Everyone ages 18 and older should get a booster shot either when they are six months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or two months after their initial J&J vaccine,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement on Monday.

Citing “early data from South Africa” where the variant was first identified earlier this month, Walensky pointed out that the newly-detected strain appears to be more contagious, and noted that its discovery prompted a review of vaccine effectiveness in the US and around the world.

The official also seized the opportunity to call on some 47 million Americans older than 18 who have been reluctant to get vaccinated so far to get the jab “as soon as possible,” as well as to vaccinate their children, “because strong immunity will likely prevent serious illness.”

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By urging all Americans to get a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, the CDC expanded its previous recommendation that pertained only to those aged 50 and older and people living in long-term care facilities.

Earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made all adults in the US eligible for booster shots, but stopped short of outright recommending the extra doses.

The new Covid-19 strain – known as B.1.1.529 or Omicron –  has stirred panic globally, amid concerns that it could render the existing vaccines far less effective or completely useless. The variant, which is marked by 32 mutations of the spike protein, has spread beyond southern Africa and has already triggered a wave of travel bans around the world.

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