U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy: Updated COVID-19 Vaccine Offers Best ProtectionReading Time: 2 Minutes
Last Updated: January 5, 2023
For nearly three years now, Americans of every age and from every community have stepped up to help keep themselves, their loved ones, their friends, and their neighbors safe from the COVID-19 virus. Millions reduced exposures, wore masks, and most importantly, got vaccinated and boosted. And because of those extraordinary efforts, our country is thankfully in a new, better place in the fight against COVID-19 – but we can’t let up.
With the arrival of colder weather comes a greater risk of illness because of more respiratory viruses circulating, including COVID-19. These viruses have a disproportionate impact on our seniors: nearly 75% of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are among those 65 and older.
The most important thing we can all do to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities safe this winter is get an updated COVID-19 vaccine right away.
The updated vaccine targets the Omicron variant as well as the original strain of COVID-19. It has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for people ages six months and older. And recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reaffirmed that the updated vaccine makes a big difference in reducing your likelihood of ending up seriously ill from COVID-19.
How big a difference? Early data show that people who received their updated COVID-19 vaccine this year were nearly 19 times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to people who are not vaccinated at all, and were also less likely to die than those who were vaccinated but had not received an updated COVID-19 vaccine. For seniors, the chance of hospitalization may decrease by 50% or more if you get the updated vaccine – even if you’ve had past doses.
The bottom line is: the updated COVID-19 vaccine offers protection against serious illness, especially for older adults. Even if you do get infected with COVID-19, you are less likely to end up in the hospital or lose your life if you are up to date with your vaccines.
That’s why more than 47 million Americans already got their updated COVID-19 shot as of the new year, including 21 million seniors.
One other measure that can reduce your chances of serious illness if you do get COVID-19 is treatment with medications like Paxlovid. It’s important to start treatment early, even if you have mild symptoms, so don’t delay in seeking care if you learn you have COVID-19.
These two tools – vaccines and treatments – have already saved millions of lives. They could save your life too and can certainly give you and your family more peace of mind during the winter months.
So make a personal plan for COVID-19 today – one that includes vaccines and treatments.
For more information on how to find a COVID-19 vaccine near you, visit vaccines.gov or call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 888-720-7489) for assistance in English, Spanish, and many other languages. To learn more about treatments for COVID-19, talk to your health care providers or visit covid.gov. And to get up to four free at-home COVID-19 tests, visit COVIDtests.gov.