According to CDC data, the new COVID booster shot, designed to combat Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, is a great big flop, with fewer than 2% of eligible Americans offering up their arms for another jab.
More than 4.4 million Americans have subjected themselves to the new-and-improved booster shot since the start of September, but that represents just 1.5% of those who are eligible to receive it in the U.S., according to NBC News. This, despite a CDC recommendation from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky to accompany the Sept. 1 rollout of the bivalent shots offered by Pfizer and Moderna.
Some doctors, including Dr. Scott Roberts, an infectious disease specialist out of Yale Medicine, are blaming President Biden for the low turnout.
As American Wire reported, Biden went on CBS’s “60 Minutes” and declared “the pandemic is over.” Though White House Press Secretary Karine Jeanne-Pierre did her best to walk the President’s comments back, the “damage” was already done.
‘He said it TWICE’: Jean-Pierre’s attempt at spinning Biden’s ‘pandemic is over’ line did not go well https://t.co/0POYMab6Fd
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) September 21, 2022
“The fact that this booster came out days before Biden said the pandemic is over is a huge mixed message,” Dr. Roberts said. “Now it’s going to be that much harder to convince those at risk who are on the fence to get a booster.”
He called America’s response to the new booster “demoralizing.”
“I would expect a much higher proportion of Americans to have gotten the booster by this point,” he said.
Matters have likely been made worse by the Saturday announcement from Pfizer CEO Albert Boura that, for the second time in just two months, he has tested positive for COVID-19.
Though he expressly states he has not yet had the new booster, the optics aren’t good.
“I have tested positive for COVID,” he tweeted. “I’m feeling well & symptom free. I’ve not had the new bivalent booster yet, as I was following CDC guidelines to wait 3 months since my previous COVID case which was back in mid-August. While we’ve made great progress, the virus is still with us.”
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who has long been vocal about his vaccine-related concerns, questioned if multiple mRNA shots “interfere with your natural immune response to COVID?”
CEO of Pfizer had four shots of mRNA, but then caught COVID twice in the past two months. Do the shots interfere with your natural immune response to COVID? https://t.co/Fq22oDzwqL
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) September 24, 2022
Nevertheless, as NBC notes, overall demand for Covid shots has been on the rise since the rollout of the booster began.
“The U.S. is currently administering around 314,000 Covid vaccine doses per day, as a weekly average,” NBC reports. “That’s nearly triple the number from the start of the month.”
More than 25 million bivalent booster doses have been shipped by the U.S. government to tens of thousands of sites, putting the majority of Americans less than 5 minutes from a location that carries the updated booster.
So confident is Walensky in the new jab, she was filmed receiving her shot on ABC News on Thursday.
“I feel great,” she gushed. “I’m delighted to have gotten my fall-updated vaccine, my bivalent vaccine, so I can be as protected as possible over the coming months.”
The CDC is recommending the booster “from Pfizer-BioNTech for people ages 12 years and older and from Moderna for people ages 18 years and older.” People should wait two months after their last COVID shot and up to three months after their last bout with the virus before taking the shot.
“The updated COVID-19 boosters are formulated to better protect against the most recently circulating COVID-19 variant,” Walensky said in the CDC statement. “They can help restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination and were designed to provide broader protection against newer variants. This recommendation followed a comprehensive scientific evaluation and robust scientific discussion. If you are eligible, there is no bad time to get your COVID-19 booster and I strongly encourage you to receive it.”
However, real-world data, which would reveal the efficacy of the booster in humans and any potential side effects, is still in the process of being gathered by the experts, NBC reports.
The bivalent shots were distributed without the benefit of actual human trials.
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