Adults over 50, and particularly those over 65, should get omicron booster shots right away, the head of the White House COVID-19 task force said this week.
“If you’re over 50, certainly if you’re over 65, you’ve got to go get these vaccines because it actually, literally could save your life. It’s a difference between life and death,” Ashish Jha, MD, said.
An average of 330 people a day die from COVID, according to the CDC. About 70% of people who die from it are 75 and older, Jha said.
He said people dying from COVID-19 didn’t stay up to date on vaccines or didn’t receive antiviral treatments after breakthrough infections.
“If you are up to date with your vaccines and if you get treated if you have a breakthrough infection, your risk of dying from Covid is now close to zero,” Jha told reporters at the White House last week.
Jha urged everyone to get up-to-date vaccines and boosters by Halloween to be best prepared by the time the U.S. holiday season begins with Thanksgiving. More people spending time together indoors over the holidays and winter could lead to a spike in infections.
Health officials say the new boosters are designed to protect from the dominant omicron BA.5 subvariant, in addition to the first strain of COVID-19 that came out of China in 2019.
Younger people should get the shots, too, he said, even though they have a lower risk of getting seriously ill from COVID. The FDA and the CDC approved omicron shots for kids 5 and up last week.