**OLDER ADULTS ALERT: US Health Officials Urge Latest COVID-19 Vaccine Boost**

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – US health officials are strongly advising older adults to consider getting an additional dose of the latest COVID-19 vaccine for added protection against the virus. The guidance recently issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes the importance of safeguarding individuals aged 65 and above, who have been identified as highly vulnerable to severe illness due to COVID-19.

CDC Director Mandy Cohen highlighted that a significant number of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations last year occurred among individuals aged 65 and older. The additional vaccine dose is intended to offer an extra layer of defense for those at the highest risk, even if they have previously received the updated shot introduced last autumn. The decision to recommend the additional dose comes after ongoing debates among experts regarding the necessity of extra COVID-19 shots for older adults.

While some healthcare professionals believe that older adults remain adequately protected after receiving the initial shot last year, studies have shown that vaccine-induced immunity may decrease over time, particularly in the elderly population. The CDC’s recommendation for additional COVID-19 shots, known as boosters, aims to address this concern and reduce the risk of severe illness and death among older age groups.

The latest guidance suggests a waiting period of at least four months for individuals who have already received the updated shot before getting the latest dose. The CDC’s emphasis on the word “should” in the guidance is aimed at encouraging more healthcare providers and pharmacies to offer the shots, making it easier for older adults to access the additional protection provided by the updated vaccine.

Health officials stress that despite the availability of vaccines, COVID-19 continues to pose serious health risks, especially for older individuals and those with underlying medical conditions. With over 20,000 hospitalizations and 2,000 deaths from COVID-19 reported weekly, individuals aged 65 and older face the highest rates of hospitalization and mortality.

The CDC’s recommendation for the latest COVID-19 shot, based on the XBB.1.5 virus variant, extends to individuals aged six months and older, as well as those with weakened immune systems who may benefit from a second shot. While vaccination rates vary across different age groups, healthcare professionals caution against complacency and urge the public to stay vigilant in the face of the ongoing pandemic.