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Biden says omicron variant concerning but not ‘cause for panic’; CDC urges all adults to get boosters

President Biden delivered remarks on the threat posed by the omicron coronavirus variant on Nov. 29, encouraging Americans to get vaccinated. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention significantly expanded its recommendations for booster shots on Monday, saying that all adults 18 and older should get them, as President Biden called the omicron coronavirus variant a “cause for concern” but “not a cause for panic.”

All American adults became eligible for booster doses of coronavirus vaccines earlier this month, but the CDC previously focused on the most vulnerable age group — saying people over 50 should make sure to get boosted, while others had the option.

Scientists say the omicron variant’s high number of mutations could make it highly transmissible and better able to penetrate immune defenses, but much remains unknown. Experts predict vaccines will still provide at least some protection, and the president emphasized Monday from the White House that shots remain the best way to prepare.

What to know about the omicron variant

Here’s what to know

  • Pointing to rising coronavirus cases and the omicron variant, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell said the latest virus challenges pose risks to job growth, economic activity and inflation.
  • Pfizer and its partner BioNTech are expected to ask the Food and Drug Administration in the coming days to authorize its booster shot for 16- and 17-year-olds.
  • A federal judge in Missouri has partially halted another one of the Biden administration’s key vaccine requirements, blocking the imposition of a rule for certain health-care workers in 10 states.
  • The World Health Organization warned that the variant posed a “very high” global risk and is likely to spread.