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Faye Flam

Here’s Who Really Needs the New Covid Booster

Instead of pushing everyone to get another Covid vaccine, the CDC should be prioritizing older unboosted people.

Time for a boost?

Time for a boost?

Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Updated on

The new US Covid booster campaign needs a dose of clarity about its goals and limitations. The latest “bivalent” vaccine — retooled to protect against the currently circulating BA.5 variant — will benefit some more than others. The oldest and most vulnerable citizens are likely to benefit most. Public health officials should aim to protect them through a targeted messaging campaign convincing them to get the shot. Younger people should only be encouraged to get it if they’re more than six months out from their last shot.

Right now, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a broader focus — recommending that everyone over 12 get the booster if they’re more than two months out from their last shot or three months out from an infection. That diffuse message is less likely to reach those who need it most.