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U.S. agencies prepare to offer booster shots

From the week beginning 20th September 2021, all eligible Americans will be offered booster shots of the Coronavirus vaccine to combat the Delta variant. Those who have taken the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines eight months ago are deemed eligible to take the shot. With fears of increasing Covid-19 cases and declining immunity, booster shots are believed to be the solution, with President Joe Biden saying these shots “will increase your protection from Covid-19” in a White House Covid press briefing on Wednesday.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy also expressed a positive attitude towards booster shots, explaining that offering them at the “eight-month mark would be the prudent thing to do to stay ahead of this virus.” Numbers have shown that protection has dropped to 64% for vaccines, compared to its effectiveness of 92% before the Delta variant. Other supporting data from Israel demonstrates a reduction in vaccine effectiveness against the ill aged 65 or older, even if they were fully vaccinated in January.

However, booster shots have provoked skepticism and people are criticizing the need for these add-ons. Health advocates argued the President should focus on rolling out vaccines for countries that are facing shortages, rather than promoting the use of booster shots. The director of the WHO’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, Lawrence Gostin, calls the U.S. booster shot plan “a slap in the face” to the world-renowned health agency. The WHO’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan also condemns the President and claims “the data to date does not indicate that boosters are needed.” However, Press Secretary Jen Psaki responds to criticism and says the U.S. will “do both”, echoing the President’s statement on his will to “take care of America and help the world at the same time.”

Booster shots appear to be safe since no recipients developed severe adverse effects or side effects from it. After these shots are approved, healthcare providers and the elderly will be encouraged to take extra ones in December. More vaccination records and data from around the world may be required to prioritize and determine which groups of people could need to take the booster.

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Melody Chan

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December 2021
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