People aged 65 and older should receive an additional COVID shot this spring, as per the latest advisory from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The currently recommended booster dose corresponds to the second dose of the latest version of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Novavax vaccines released in the fall. It is meant for older adults at least four months after a previous dose, or at least three months after a COVID-19 infection. However, people with compromised immune systems may need additional shots.
The recommendation came shortly after the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted in favor of booster shots. Vaccination significantly reduced the likelihood of COVID-19 hospitalization in generally healthy individuals aged 65 and older, with a reduction of up to 54%, as per recent data presented by the advisory committee.
Based on this data, the committee advocates older adults to take another round of the vaccine in the coming months, anticipating another potential surge in illnesses during the upcoming summer.
“Most COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations last year were among people 65 years and older. An additional vaccine dose can provide added protection that may have decreased over time for those at highest risk,” CDC Director Mandy Cohen said in a statement.
However, last year, the committee had advised only an optional additional dose for older adults.
“There are still roughly 20,000 people a week hospitalized for COVID and about 2,000 deaths a week caused by the disease,” said Megan Wallace of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD).
Adults over the age of 65 made up about two-thirds of the population who were hospitalized for COVID from March 2020 to January 2024, according to Christopher Taylor, from the NCIRD.
“I was impressed with data supporting the need for an additional dose of vaccine for those 65 years and older. Given the risk of severe, even life-threatening, disease, I would encourage those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised to take the opportunity for another dose,” Dr. Camille Kotton, a member of the scientific advisory panel, said in an interview, NY Times reported.
According to CDC estimates, around 22% of adults in the United States have received the COVID-19 vaccine updated for the 2023-24 vaccination season, with nearly 42% of individuals aged 65 or older being included in this vaccination coverage.