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Many Americans ‘Undervaccinated,’ U.S. Leaders Say

White House launches strategy for Omicron subvariants

July 12, 2022

With Omicron’s subvariants gaining traction across the U.S., the nation’s public health leaders today urged Americans to stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines.

Among those 50 and older, vaccinated people with a primary series and just one booster dose had four times the risk of dying from the virus compared to those who had received two or more booster doses, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director.

“Currently, many Americans are undervaccinated, meaning they are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines,” Dr. Walensky said.

Just 28 percent of the people over 50 who had received their first COVID-19 booster dose also had received their second booster shot, the nation’s COVID-19 response team said today during a briefing.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Variant proportions:  The Omicron BA.5 subvariant accounts for about 65 percent of circulating variants, while BA.4 accounts for 16 percent of cases. The rest of cases stem from the BA.2.12.1 subvariant.
  • A National Strategy:  The White House released a strategy today to manage the latest Omicron subvariants, focusing on vaccines, testing, treatment, masks, ventilation, and protecting the immunocompromised. Protection from BA.1 does not appear to provide significant protection against reinfection from the BA.5 variant, the White House leaders said.
  • Severe cases:  The seven-day average of hospitalizations is about 5,100 per day, a 0.6 percent increase from the previous week, but hospitalizations have doubled since early May. The U.S. is averaging about 350 deaths per day.
  • A simple message:  People 50 older who haven’t had a COVID-19 vaccine shot during 2022 are eligible to get vaccinated (whether it’s a first shot, a booster, or second booster dose).
  • Quotable:  “Variants will continue to emerge,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical advisor. “The virus circulates globally and in this country. We should not let it disrupt our lives, but we cannot deny that it is a reality that we need to deal with.”

The FDA and CDC will continue to evaluate if the general population will be eligible for a second booster dose. The nation’s outside counsel of public health vaccine experts would provide input about the need for a second dose.

HAP encourages everyone to stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, which offer strong protection against severe disease. HAP will continue to monitor the latest COVID-19 public health developments and provide updates to members. Learn more about the COVID-19 levels in your community