- US health officials are encouraging all Americans to get caught up on their COVID-19 booster shots.
- People who get a shot now will still be eligible for a vaccine-specific shot later this year, the White House said.
- "Waiting until October, November for a boost when, in fact, their risk is in the moment is not a good plan," the CDC director said.
US health officials are encouraging Americans to get caught up on their COVID-19 vaccines, emphasizing that getting a shot now won't disqualify them from getting a variant-specific vaccine formulated specifically against the rapidly spreading Omicron BA.5 variant in the fall.
"The threat to you is now," Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a press briefing on Tuesday. "If you are not vaccinated to the fullest … then you are putting yourself at an increased risk that you can mitigate against by getting vaccinated."
Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, underscored Fauci's point, saying holding off on getting the latest shot is risky.
"Waiting until October, November for a boost when, in fact, [your] risk is in the moment is not a good plan," Walensky said.
And White House COVID-19 coordinator Ashish Jha assured that getting a booster now wouldn't "preclude" adults from getting another jab in the fall.
US adults ages 50 and older are currently eligible for a second booster shot. Fauci said it would be up to regulatory approval from the FDA and CDC to open up second booster doses for younger adults.
The push for boosters comes as the latest COVID-19 Omicron variant, BA.5, gains traction across the US. The new variant currently makes up 64% of all cases in the US, Walensky said.
The variant "substantially evades" antibodies both from prior infection and from immunization, Fauci said, making it even more important for people to stay up to date on their shots.
Despite BA.5's ability to dodge the body's immune responses and re-infect people, vaccination still prevents serious illness and death, Fauci noted.