If you’re not up to date on your Covid shots or boosters, Dr. Anthony Fauci has a stark warning for you: get those doses now, or prepare for a harsh Covid fall and winter.
“If they’re not vaccinated or if they’re not boosted, they’re going to be in trouble,” Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, told Los Angeles radio station KNX News 97.1 “KNX In Depth” on Tuesday.
This applies to a clear majority of Americans. Nearly 228 million, or about 70%, of Americans were unvaccinated, had not completed their primary vaccine series or had not received their first booster dose as of July 21, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Absorption is particularly low for booster injections. All Americans ages 5 and older are eligible for a booster five months after completing their primary vaccine series, but only 48.4% of those eligible people were actually boosted, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. .
Of adults 50 and older eligible for a second booster shot, only 30.9% received it, the data shows.
This is a problem before fall and winter. The United States could experience a major Covid surge with 100 million new infections and a wave of deaths over the next few months, White House Covid response coordinator Dr Ashish Jha projected in May.
Fauci called the country’s vaccine and booster rates “pretty disheartening” and pointed to a potential reason people aren’t up to date: They just think they don’t need the extra doses because they are not high-risk populations. for Covid. These populations include the elderly, people with underlying or immunocompromised conditions, and unvaccinated people.
“People say, ‘Well, the risk for me is low. So why get it? ‘” Fauci said.
The reason, Fauci explained, is that the longer the virus circulates, the more likely it is to mutate into a new variant that could threaten even low-risk populations. In other words, if you catch Covid and make a full recovery without too much fuss, you personally might be fine – but you’re actively extending the lifespan of the virus and giving it a chance to adapt even more.
The BA.5 subvariant of Omicron, the currently dominant Covid strain in the country, is already adept at partially evading protective antibodies triggered by vaccines, Fauci said. But that’s no reason to avoid vaccine doses: some protection against infection is better than no protection at all, and vaccines still work exceptionally well in preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death.
Fauci said booster shots targeting Covid variants like BA.5, which will boost immunity against those particular strains, will likely be available next month. Get one when you’re eligible, Fauci said — and in the meantime, don’t wait to catch up on the doses you’re currently missing.
If you’re not worried about your own personal risk, worry about your “joint responsibility,” Fauci said.
“If you want to put your arms around … the epidemic, you want to vaccinate and boost as many people in our community – and by community, I mean our nation and the world – so you are not giving this virus such an opportunity to really circulate,” he said.
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