Americans over the age of 60 should receive a second booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine, Dr. Ashish K. Jha, new White House response coordinator for Covid-19 said on Sunday, citing “fairly compelling” new data from Israel showing that the fourth shot significantly decreased the number of infections and deaths among the elderly.
Dr. Jh’s comments in Fox News Sunday came after the Food and Drug Administration approved second booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines for everyone aged 50 and over on March 29.
The FDA said the move was an attempt to bolster declining immunity to serious disease as a more contagious sub-variant of Omicron, known as BA.2, is emerging as the dominant version of the virus in the United States.
Asked if Americans should receive a second booster injection, Dr. Jha, who was appointed Covid-19 response coordinator in the Biden administration last month, pointed to research from Israel showing that the fourth injection provided strong protection, especially against severe disease. in people over 60 years of age
“The data from Israel is quite convincing for people over the age of 60,” he said. “When people got a second booster four months after the first booster, we saw a significant reduction in not only infections but also deaths. So I think people over 60 should get it. ”
The Israeli study did not provide data on the effectiveness of the second booster dose in people under the age of 60. Israel approved a fourth dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in January for people 60 years of age and older and other high-risk populations.
In a separate speech on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Dr. Jha said the second booster for Americans aged 50 to 59 “is much closer.” He said people in this age group should consult their doctor before receiving a second booster dose.
“Fifty to 59, you qualify,” he said, noting that getting a second booster dose depends on the individual’s risk profile.
“But for me, based on the data, aged 60 and over, I think it’s very wise,” he said. “This is what I recommended to my elderly parents and I think people should do it.”
Dr Jha said it remains to be seen whether BA.2 will cause more severe disease than previous virus variants and sub-variants. Cases are increasing, but hospitalizations “are at the lowest level of the pandemic,” he told Meet the Press.
“The good news is that our vaccines hold up very well to BA.2 against all Omicron variants, especially if you’ve been boosted,” he said. “So the key here is that you have to have the first two shots and you have to have an amp. It is at this moment that it really protects people. “