CDC: Rising Cases, Holidays Led to Approval of Boosters for All

Lindsay Kalter

November 22, 2021

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Health officials authorized booster shots for all US adults last week in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases, along with concern about upcoming holidays and winter months, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said Monday.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized booster doses for all adults Friday morning, and CDC advisors and Walensky signed off shortly after.

"The CDC is continuously monitoring the state of the pandemic, and our current surveillance shows a rise of cases over the past few weeks," Walensky said during a White House briefing.

"Heading into the winter months, when respiratory viruses are more likely to spread, and with plans for increased holiday travel and gatherings, boosting people's overall protection against COVID-19 disease and death was important to do now."

The latest 7-day average of cases is 92,800 per day, an 18% surge from last week.

Hospitalization rates have increased 6% with a daily average of 5600, Walensky said.

Top COVID-19 expert Anthony S. Fauci, MD, said Israel, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and the United States are all seeing the effectiveness and safety of booster shots.

One Israeli study found that 12 days or more after a booster dose there was a decrease in risk of infection by a factor of 11.3, while the risk of severe illness was lowered by a factor of almost 20.

The boosters may provide the most protection out of any COVID-19 shots to date, he said during the briefing.

"Not only do boosters work, they work even better than the peak response after the second dose," Fauci said.

The unvaccinated continue to drive the pandemic, Walensky said. According to the most up-to-date information on the CDC data tracker, unvaccinated people are six times more likely to test positive for the virus, nine times more likely to be hospitalized, and 14 times more likely to die.

About 47 million eligible American adults and 12 million eligible teens are still not vaccinated, she said.

Walensky recommended taking all available precautions before gathering for the holidays, most importantly getting vaccinated and boosted. Taking an at-home COVID-19 test can provide an extra layer of protection, she said.

"Most tragic are the vaccine-preventable deaths that we are still seeing from this disease," Walensky said. "If you or your family members are not yet vaccinated, please consider the benefits of vaccination."

News briefing, White House COVID-19 Response Team, November 22, 2021

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