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IDSA Recommends ‘Universal’ COVID-19 Vaccination Booster

Following the CDC’s recommendation that everyone over 6 months of age receive the new COVID-19 booster, the Infectious Diseases Society of America says widespread vaccination could prevent 15,000 deaths over the next two years.

A person wearing a blue shirt shown from the neck down holding out a blank CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card in front of them with both hands. White background.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months should get the latest COVID-19 booster, voting 13 to 1 after hearing that the new vaccine could prevent 100,000 hospitalizations per year if just the elderly were vaccinated.

Subsequent to the CDC announcement, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) held a briefing, encouraging universal vaccination, saying it could prevent 15,000 deaths over the next two years.

Although hospitalizations and deaths are lower right now than they were during the pandemic’s peak, recent data from the CDC shows nearly 20,000 weekly hospitalizations and 700 deaths. Those numbers are trending upward and expected to continue that way in the fall and winter.

“An analysis [presented by the CDC] showed that universal vaccination [everyone six months of age and up] would have saved an additional 200,000 hospitalizations and 15,000 deaths over the next two years, compared to recommending only for those 65 years of age and older,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer and chief of the Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Immunization Section for Public Health in Seattle and King County, and professor of medicine at the University of Washington.

“A universal recommendation is also likely to help reduce disparities with respect to access to vaccinations and corresponding disparities,” Duchin said.

Duchin said the new vaccine is expected to be effective against more than 90 percent of the viruses circulating now. “IDSA supports this new recommendation that makes COVID-19 vaccinations available to all persons 6 months or older who choose to vaccinated,” Duchin said.

“That said, I want to emphasize that although people of all ages can benefit from COVID-19 vaccination, the greatest benefit is for people of increased risk for severe COVID-19 with respect to hospitalization and deaths, and this is primarily adults 65 and older and people with certain underlying medical conditions of all ages,” he continued.

Duchin stressed that previous boosters were formulated for different strains of viruses and have waned in effectiveness anyway, making another booster that much more necessary.

He also strongly recommended the flu vaccination this fall and said that individuals over 60 may want to discuss with a health-care provider the opportunity to be vaccinated against RSV.

Despite recommendations from health-care professionals, vaccination rates for children remain low, according to Dr. Tina Tan, vice president of IDSA.

“We need to work on improving the vaccination rate of those under 5 because we know that young infants and children, if they do get COVID, are at higher risk of complications associated with the disease, especially those under a year old.”

Tan said that although COVID-19 is part of the recommended childhood immunization schedule, vaccination rates show that less than 40 percent of kids aged 5 to 11 have received one dose of the vaccine, and just 10 percent of children aged 6 months to 4 years have received a single dose.

Tan also endorsed the flu vaccination for children to protect whole families. “Remember that flu vaccination is recommended by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics for anyone 6 months or older,” she said. “It’s important to immunize everyone in the family.”