Seniors and other vulnerable Americans should get new shots

As the weather gets colder, Americans hunker down for a third winter marred by COVID-19 — a virus everyone would gladly erase from our memories. But we can’t, because the bug is still taking about 400 American lives per day. Annualized, that works out to more than Alzheimer’s or diabetes and about triple the total killed by influenza and pneumonia combined.

How to stay safe? Same as since the beginning: Wear a mask indoors, particularly when around many other people. Especially wear a mask if you’re showing any symptoms. And ensure you’ve had updated vaccines, particularly if you’re vulnerable.


Right now, that means that older Americans and those with underlying medical conditions should get the bivalent booster, which is specially designed to combat the strains threatening to fuel a spike in new cases. Yet nationwide uptake of the new-and-improved shot as registered by the CDC is now a miserable 4%, which is also roughly the rate in New York City.

Senior citizens and those with other health challenges make up the lion’s share of hospitalizations and about 80% of deaths. And while immunity conferred by earlier shots fades over time for all, it wanes especially in older people and those with chronic conditions. The free bivalent booster will substantially reduce the risk of serious disease or death. (Side note: All of us but kids and seniors especially, should also get their flu shots, as experts are predicting a nasty influenza season.)

Should healthy Americans of all ages roll up their sleeves and feel the pinch? Yes.

But the priority now, given such depressingly low participation rates, should be on those at most serious risk.

How about a new $100 city incentive program? At the very least, how about an aggressive communications campaign?

Our nearly-80-year-old president, Joe Biden, had political reasons last month for wishfully declaring the pandemic “over.” But it just isn’t so, and his fellow senior citizens will almost surely pay the biggest price if no one lights a fire under their seats to get them protected.

— New York Daily News

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