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Biden administration to offer vaccine booster shots beginning Sept. 20, require vaccinations for nursing home staff

President Biden said on Aug. 18 that after Sept. 20, vaccinated Americans can get booster shots against coronavirus eight months after their second injection. (Video: The Washington Post)
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The Biden administration will begin offering coronavirus booster shots the week of Sept. 20, top health officials announced Wednesday, after concluding that a third shot is needed to fight off waning immunity.

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Officials said the decision was driven by data showing a decline over time in the vaccines’ ability to protect against less serious disease; evidence that boosters work and that more protection may be needed against the dominant delta variant; and a desire to stave off any potential decrease in the shots’ effectiveness against severe illness.

The officials said the plan would only be implemented if the Food and Drug Administration approved boosters and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisers recommended them.

Here’s what to know

Health and science reporters Joel Achenbach and Carolyn Y. Johnson will be answering questions about coronavirus booster shots on Friday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. Submit questions ahead of time here.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

The latest: The CDC has loosened many of its recommendations for battling the coronavirus, a strategic shift that puts more of the onus on individuals, rather than on schools, businesses and other institutions, to limit viral spread.

Variants: BA.5 is the most recent omicron subvariant, and it’s quickly become the dominant strain in the U.S. Here’s what to know about it, and why vaccines may only offer limited protection.

Vaccines: Vaccines: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 12 and older get an updated coronavirus booster shot designed to target both the original virus and the omicron variant circulating now. You’re eligible for the shot if it has been at least two months since your initial vaccine or your last booster. An initial vaccine series for children under 5, meanwhile, became available this summer. Here’s what to know about how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections and booster history.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. The omicron variant is behind much of the recent spread.

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