Oct. 13, 2023 – About 7 million people in the U.S. have gotten the new COVID-19 vaccine as the nation heads into what health officials now consider cold, flu, and COVID season.
The new tally is about 3 million shots higher than the count reported a week ago. But uptake is lagging behind last season by about 600,000 doses.
CDC Director Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, cited the 7 million shots when she got her own COVID booster on Thursday in California at a mobile clinic set up in a senior citizen community, The (San Jose, CA) Mercury News reported. The count of 7 million vaccines given since Sept. 12 was also reported by CNN and Reuters, citing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In its weekly update of virus metrics on its COVID Data Tracker website, the CDC doesn't usually report the number of COVID vaccines given. For the week ending Sept. 30, about 11% of all COVID tests reported to the CDC were positive, and the virus accounted for 1.6% of all emergency department visits.
“October is the right time to get vaccinated,” Cohen told the Los Angeles Times. “As we get into late fall and winter … what we expect is to see more COVID circulation in November, December and January.”
This is the first time during the pandemic that the nation’s strategy has been to offer an annual fall COVID vaccine, similar to an annual flu shot. It’s also the first time that the rollout of updated vaccines has relied on the private sector, now that the federal public health emergency has ended. The rollout was marked by insurance problems and supply issues. The shots should be given at no out-of-pocket cost through either insurance coverage or federal programs.
A summary about COVID vaccines published this week by the CDC said that last year, COVID vaccines prevented 18.5 million hospitalizations and also prevented 3.2 million deaths.
“Currently, older adults (aged at least 65 years) and infants aged younger than 6 months are at highest risk for COVID-19-associated hospitalization,” the report stated. “During January 1-August 26, 2023, COVID-19-associated hospitalization rates among adults aged at least 75 years were two to three times as high as those among the next youngest age group (adults aged 65–74 years). Rates among infants aged younger than 6 months are similar to those among adults aged 65-74 years.”
The CDC recommends all people ages 6 months and older get the new COVID vaccine, which was made to better protect against current variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID.