As the Omicron variant spreads, COVID-19 vaccination is more important than ever. The American Heart Association continues to align with expert guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – the nation’s infectious disease experts – regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots.
Recently, the CDC extended recommendations for a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines to all adults ages 18 and older, including the allowance to “mix & match” the types of COVID-19 vaccines for the booster dose. According to the CDC, the additional COVID-19 vaccine dose may be from any of the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized or approved in the U.S. – either the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. The mix & match regimen is available only for booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, not for the primary vaccination series, which still requires the same, initial two doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC recommends a booster of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (mRNA vaccines) for all adults at least 6 months after receiving two-doses of the same mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Adults ages 18 and older who previously received one dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (an adenovirus vector vaccine) are eligible for a booster dose two months after the initial dose. They may select a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine or a booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives for all, affirms the CDC’s guidance on COVID-19 vaccines.
The Association remains concerned about the continuing gaps in COVID-19 vaccination among people from all eligible age groups in the U.S. including people from diverse racial and ethnic groups and among pregnant women, especially in light of the Omicron variant. Therefore, it continues to urge all adults and children ages 5 and older in the U.S. to receive all COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are eligible, as recommended by the CDC and fully approved or authorized for emergency use by the FDA.
“With the Omicron variant spreading, we urge everyone 5 and older to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and get the booster when they are eligible. The booster shots are particularly important for adults ages 50 and older who have underlying medical conditions or any adult living in a long-term care facility,” said American Heart Association volunteer President Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Sc.M., FAHA, who is also the Eileen M. Foell Professor of Heart Research, professor of preventive medicine, medicine and pediatrics, and chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
“As cited by the CDC, recently published research indicates a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose provides increased protection against COVID-19 infection, severe complications and death. Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 infection after vaccination are possible, however, serious side effects and needing hospitalization among people who are vaccinated continue to be rare and mild. The benefits of the vaccine and boosters far outweigh the very limited risk.”
The Association also supports the CDC’s ongoing safety recommendations: mask wearing for all people regardless of vaccination status when indoors, frequent handwashing and social distancing. Along with COVID-19 vaccination, these safety protocols are essential to minimizing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and reducing the risk of infection, hospitalization and death.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our families and communities for a second winter and holiday season, we encourage everyone to remain vigilant against the COVID-19 virus. The COVID-19 vaccines are paramount to saving lives, protecting our families and loved ones against COVID-19 infection, severe illness and death. We urge everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible so that it is a winter filled with joyous memories,” urged Lloyd-Jones.