Some states and New York City have decided to expand COVID-19 booster shots to all adults, not waiting for approval from U.S. health officials.
Arkansas, California, Colorado and New Mexico announced the expansion in anticipation of a surge of COVID-19 cases heading into the holiday season when more people are staying indoors and traveling.
The New York Times reported that New York City health officials have also encouraged all adults to get a COVID-19 booster shot.
Pfizer asked U.S. regulators last week to allow boosters of its COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 18 or older, a step that comes amid concern about increased spread of the coronavirus with holiday travel and gatherings. Older Americans and other groups particularly vulnerable to the virus have had access to a third dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine since September. But the Food and Drug Administration has said it would move quickly to expand boosters to younger ages if warranted.
Pfizer’s new study concluded a booster could restore protection against symptomatic infection to about 95%, even as the extra-contagious delta variant was surging. Side effects were similar to those seen with the company’s first two shots.
The seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in the United States has jumped more than 26% over the last three weeks, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Oct. 24, the CDC reported the country’s seven-day average of cases at 63,800. Three weeks later, on Nov. 14, the CDC was reporting the seven-day average had jumped to 80,800 — an increase of 26.5%.
The contagious delta variant is driving up COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Mountain West and fueling disruptive outbreaks in the north, a worrisome sign of what could be ahead this winter in the U.S.
Colorado’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are at their highest peak since last December, according to state data, and the health department said 30% of the state’s facilities are anticipating ICU bed shortages within the next week. As of last Wednesday, Colorado had nearly 1,280 hospitalizations, with 80% made up of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, according to the health department’s data dashboard.
Democratic Gov. Jared Polis issued two executive orders in response to the hospitalization increase — one calling for additional National Guard resources and another ordering hospitals and emergency departments to transfer or stop admitting new patients due to the lack of hospital beds.
New Mexico is running out of intensive care beds despite the state's above-average vaccination rate. Waning immunity may be playing a role. People who were vaccinated early and have not yet received booster shots may be driving up infection numbers, even if they still have some protection from the most dire consequences of the virus.
According to the CDC, more than 227 million Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, representing 68.4% of the total population. Earlier this month, U.S. health officials gave clearance for children between 5 and 11 years old to get the COVID-19 vaccine. About 900,000 children received their first dose within the first week of eligibility.
Now nearly 20,000 pharmacies, clinics and physicians’ offices are offering the doses to younger kids.
The Biden administration is encouraging schools to host vaccine clinics on site to make it even easier for kids to get shots. The White House is also asking schools to share information from "trusted messengers" like doctors and public health officials to combat misinformation around the vaccines.
Megan Ziegler, FOX News and The Associated Press contributed to this story. This story was reported from Los Angeles.