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White House COVID-19 coordinator urges adults over 60 to get second booster

By HealthDay News
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An elderly Israeli man waits to be is injected with the fourth COVID-19 Pfizer BioNTech vaccine by a Magen David Adam National Emergency Services worker in the Migdal Nofim Assisted Liiving Facility in Jerusalem, on January 6, 2022. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
An elderly Israeli man waits to be is injected with the fourth COVID-19 Pfizer BioNTech vaccine by a Magen David Adam National Emergency Services worker in the Migdal Nofim Assisted Liiving Facility in Jerusalem, on January 6, 2022. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Americans who are over 60 should get a second COVID-19 booster shot, the White House's new COVID-19 response coordinator recommended Sunday.

Dr. Ashish Jha noted that data from Israel has found significantly reduced rates of infection and death among older individuals who received a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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"The data out of Israel is pretty compelling for people over 60," Jha said on "Fox News Sunday." "When people got that second booster shot four months after their first booster, what we saw was a substantial reduction, not just in infections, but in deaths. So, I think people over 60 should be getting it."

Jha, who joined the White House last month, also appeared on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," where he said that the second booster for Americans aged 50 to 59 "is a much closer call," suggesting people in that age range consult with their doctors before getting that fourth shot.

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Those who are 50 to 59 are eligible, he said, but the need depends on the risk profile. The data from Israel did not include information on people in that younger age category. In January, Israel authorized a fourth dose of the Pfizer vaccine for those 60 and up.

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"But for me, based on the data, 60 and above, I think it's very reasonable," Jha said. "This is what I've recommended to my elderly parents, and that's what I think people should do."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a second booster shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on March 29 for anyone 50 and older, an effort to bolster waning immunity as BA.2, a more contagious subvariant of the Omicron variant became dominant in the country.

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Whether BA.2 would cause more severe disease than earlier variants is not yet known, Jha said. While case number grow, hospitalizations "are at the lowest level of the pandemic," Jha said on "Meet the Press."

"The good news is our vaccines are holding up really well against BA.2, against all of the Omicron variants, especially if you've been boosted," he said. "So, the key here is you've got to have the initial two shots, and you've got to have a booster. That's what's really protecting people at this moment."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.

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