How do Georgia’s vaccination rates stack up?

The FDA authorized additional booster shots March 29 for anyone 50 and older. Wednesday, FDA experts discussed a framework for how to update vaccines to better fight the current variants.   STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

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The FDA authorized additional booster shots March 29 for anyone 50 and older. Wednesday, FDA experts discussed a framework for how to update vaccines to better fight the current variants. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Vaccinations, their effectiveness and what’s next topic of FDA advisory meeting

The Food and Drug Administration convened its panel of outside experts Wednesday to discuss the evolution of the coronavirus and how updated vaccines could fight off new variants. While no decisions were made, the panel reviewed data on vaccine effectiveness in the face of the highly contagious variant, along with predictions about future variants.

They pointed to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing unvaccinated people ages 5 and older were at nine times the risk of dying from COVID-19 in January compared to people who had received a primary series of two mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna).

In discussing the rapid spread of the omicron variant around the globe since it appeared last year, experts said 60% of world and 50% of the U.S. is likely to be infected with the highly transmissible variant, which includes the BA.2 subvariant, by the time this wave is finished.

Here’s how Georgia compares to the rest of the country when it comes to vaccinations and boosters:

• 217.6 million Americans are fully vaccinated, roughly 70% of the U.S. population over age 5.

• 5.8 million Georgians are fully vaccinated, roughly 56% of the state population over age 5.

• 97.5 million Americans have received a booster dose, which is 50% of the eligible population 12 and over.

• 2.4 million Georgians have received a booster dose, which is 40% of the eligible population.

ExploreGeorgia Department of Public Health vaccine dashboard

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gave a series of tepid answers on whether Americans ages 50 and older should get a second coronavirus booster shot. The FDA authorized additional booster shots March 29 for anyone 50 and older, but Walensky remained silent on the subject until a NBC News interview on April 5.

“If you’re prone to go ahead and get a vaccine, there’s very little downside to doing so right now — especially those at high risk of severe disease,” she said. “If you get a shot now, that very well may mean you still need another shot in the fall.”

However, she said healthy adults who recently were infected with COVID-19′s omicron variant can abstain from getting another shot as long as they’re already fully vaccinated and have received their first booster.

“If you’ve had omicron disease in the last two or three months, that really did boost your immune system quite well,” Walensky said, adding that they can wait another two to four months before getting a second booster.

She said the choice to get a second booster is “a personal judgement call.” Walensky, 52, said she planned to get her second booster shot in a week or so.