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Americans over 60 should get a second booster, official says

Americans over the age of 60 should receive a second booster shot of a coronavirus vaccine, Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s new COVID-19 response coordinator, said on Sunday, citing new data “quite convincing” from Israel that a fourth injection significantly reduces infections. and deaths among the elderly there.

Jha’s comments, on “Fox News Sunday,” came after the Food and Drug Administration on March 29 authorized second booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines for everyone 50 and older. .

The FDA said the move was an effort to bolster waning immunity against serious illnesses, as the most contagious omicron subvariant, known as BA.2, was emerging as the dominant version of the virus in the United States.

When asked if Americans should receive a second booster shot, Jha, who was named the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response coordinator last month, pointed to research conducted in Israel that indicated that a fourth injection provided strong protection, especially against severe disease, in people over the age of 60.

“The data from Israel is quite compelling for people over 60,” he said. “When people received this second booster four months after their first booster, we saw a substantial reduction, not only in infections, but also in deaths. So I think people over 60 should benefit.”

The Israeli study did not provide data on the effectiveness of a second booster in people younger than 60. Israel authorized a fourth dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people 60 and older, and other high-risk populations, in January.

In a separate appearance on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Jha said a second booster shot for Americans ages 50 to 59 “is a much closer call.” People in this age group should consult a doctor before receiving a second booster, he said.

“Fifty to 59, you’re eligible,” he said, noting that whether to get a second booster depends on a person’s risk profile.

“But for me, based on the data, 60 and over, I think that’s very reasonable,” he said. “That’s what I recommended to my elderly parents, and that’s what I think people should do.”

Jha said it remained to be seen whether BA.2 would cause more severe disease than earlier variants and subvariants of the virus. Cases are rising, but hospitalizations “are at the lowest level of the pandemic,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“The good news is that our vaccines resist very well against BA.2, against all omicron variants, especially if you have been boosted,” he said. “So the key here is you have to have the first two shots, and you have to have a booster. That’s what’s really protecting people right now.”

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