Unvaccinated Americans 5 times more likely to be infected with COVID-19, health officials say

Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Johnson & Johnson announced Wednesday its booster shot dramatically raises the levels of antibodies against COVID-19.

The Biden administration did not include the single-dose vaccine in its initial booster plan announced last week – pending the release of data and further FDA approval. But the company is hoping to be part of the first distribution round of additional shots as cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise.

“We’re seeing a huge rise in COVID cases all across the country,” Rep. Bruce Westerman said.

The Arkansas Republican says his home state is one of those at maximum capacity in its ICUs, with almost all of the patients unvaccinated.

“I hope that more people will get the vaccine now that it’s FDA approved,” Rep. Westerman said.

The Pfizer shot now has full FDA approval. The company joins Moderna and Johnson & Johnson in working toward a booster vaccine. If approved, those who received their last dose at least eight months ago could get a booster as early as next month.

“The time to get vaccinated is now,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said.

Public health experts warn it won’t be up to vaccinated people getting a booster to ultimately get the delta variant under control. It will be up to unvaccinated people getting their shots.

“If you are not yet vaccinated, you are among those highest at risk,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

Walensky reports unvaccinated Americans are about five times more likely to be infected, and nearly 30 times more likely to be hospitalized.

“Please, do not underestimate the serious consequences of this virus,” she added.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, a Democrat from Illinois, stresses that because children under 12 years old still can’t get the shot, it’s up to the rest of the country to protect them.

“The secret to all of that is getting vaccinated,” Rep. Bustos said.

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