Get a new Halloween reminder for a safer holiday

WASHINGTON — The White House said Tuesday that eligible Americans should get updated COVID-19 boosters by Halloween to have maximum protection against the coronavirus by Thanksgiving and the holidays, as it warned of a “difficult” virus season ahead.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 coordinator, said the United States has the tools, both vaccines and treatments, to largely eliminate serious illness and death from the virus, but stressed that this was only the case if people did their part.

“We are not powerless in the face of these challenges,” he said. “What happens this winter is up to us.”

So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says only about 11.5 million Americans have received the updated vaccines, which aim to boost protection against the original strain of COVID-19 and the BA variant. .5 which is dominant around the world. Jha said studies suggest that if more Americans get updated vaccines, “we could save hundreds of lives every day this winter.”

More than 330 people die on average each day from COVID-19, according to CDC data, with the death toll in the United States rising to more than 1.05 million.

Jha acknowledged the slower pace of vaccinations, saying, “we expected September to be a month where it would just start to pick up.” He added that the White House expects more Americans to receive the updated reminders this month around the time they receive their annual flu shot. He also stressed that they should seek to protect them quickly when reuniting with family and friends.

“I think people should get vaccinated before Halloween,” he said.

Jha criticized Congress, which refused the White House’s $22 billion budget request for the virus response, saying it prevented the United States from building up a stockpile of tests to use in the event of a new surge. winter.

“You can’t fight a deadly virus without resources,” he said, “and congressional inaction is really expensive.”

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