Vaccine boosters provide robust protection against severe disease from the omicron variant in the United States, according to three reports released Friday that use real-world data to show the shots are effective at keeping vaccinated people out of the hospital.
But the reports by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention arrived late to the winter surge in coronavirus cases that have choked the corridors of hospitals across much of the country.
When omicron was first identified in late November and began spreading rapidly in the United States, millions of vaccinated people lined up for the extra shots. But that uptake has slowed significantly. Most people eligible for the booster shots, estimated at more than 86 million people, have not gotten them, according to the CDC.
Surveys by private polling firms suggest that uptake might be somewhat higher, and the CDC has acknowledged its data may be an underestimate. Still, despite a growing stack of scientific studies showing an extra dose jacks up antibodies to protect against severe disease and death, far fewer Americans have embraced booster shots than did the initial vaccine series.
The Biden administration continues to view vaccination uptake as critical to preventing severe disease and death in the wave of coronavirus infections driven by omicron. But even as that emphasis appeared vindicated by the new data, the policy received another blow Friday from a federal judge in Texas.
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