What’s Trending What’s Trending

Explore the latest adult vaccine developments and get helpful tips on how to communicate timely and accurate information to your friends, family and community members with the below talking points.

An illustration of a woman looking at the screen of her mobile phone

Conversation Starters

Date Posted: September 26, 2022

Is the pandemic over?

The U.S. continues to see hundreds of COVID-19 deaths per day.

  • Many individuals and organizations in the U.S. are operating as if the pandemic is nearing an end.
  • But the virus is still killing an average of about 400 people per day.
  • The virus remains a risk, especially for the elderly, the immunocompromised, and people who are not up to date on their vaccinations.
  • COVID-19 and its potentially long-lasting symptoms are unpredictable, and we don’t know what this winter has in store.

New variants could drive a winter surge. 

  • Omicron subvariant BA.5 continues to be dominant in the U.S., but BA.4.6 is starting to gain a foothold.
  • Internationally, new variants BJ.1, BA.2.3, and BA.2.75.2 are all gaining attention, and each of them has mutations that could allow for significant immune escape.
  • One of these new variants could cause a winter wave, but there is not enough data yet to make any clear predictions.

 

We have the tools to stay protected this winter: COVID-19 boosters, masks, regular testing, and treatment options. 

  • Despite the continued risks, we are in a different stage of the pandemic thanks to key tools that we can use to lower our risk.
  • Getting an updated COVID-19 booster is crucial to staying protected. The updated COVID-19 boosters are bivalent vaccines that include components from both the original COVID-19 virus and the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.
  • Precautions like wearing masks and testing regularly are still important, especially as there are fewer mandated COVID-19 prevention measures.
  • Wear high-quality, well-fitting masks in indoor public spaces and if community transmission is rising in your area.
  • Test regularly and at least two times 48 hours apart to avoid getting a false negative, particularly if you have symptoms, have been exposed, or are planning
    to travel or attend a gathering.
  • Be prepared for the chance that you do get infected and know your options for treatment.
View Resource Download resource: English / Spanish
Date Posted: September 19, 2022

What do you need to know about flu shots?

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot.

  • Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot.
  • The flu causes tens of millions of symptomatic illnesses and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations in the U.S. every year.
  • Young children, older adults, and people with certain medical conditions are particularly vulnerable to serious complications from infection.
  • Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot.
  • People 65 and older should opt for the high-dose, recombinant, or adjuvanted versions of the vaccine—each of which is supposed to produce a stronger
    immune response.
  • If those versions aren’t available, people 65 and older should get any other flu vaccine.

 

The best time to get vaccinated is September, October, or early November. 

  • Flu season in the U.S. typically peaks between December and February, but it can last as late as May.
  • Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October, but getting vaccinated too early can also be an issue, as the benefit of a flu shot wanes over
    time.
  • The CDC recommends vaccination in September and October.
  • Other experts say the best time to get vaccinated is late October or early November to ensure maximum protection throughout the flu season but to get the shot sooner if you start hearing about flu activity picking up where you live.

 

It’s safe to get a flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. 

  • Public health officials are recommending both a flu shot and an updated COVID-19 booster this fall.
  • Both vaccines are available at most pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and health care clinics and can be administered in one appointment.
  • People who are more than four to six months out from their last COVID-19 vaccine dose should get their booster now and consider getting a flu shot at the
    same time.
View Resource Download resource: English / Spanish
Date Posted: September 14, 2022

How do you explain the new fall booster?

Everyone ages 12 and over is eligible to get a fall booster.

  • Pfizer’s 30-microgram booster is authorized for people ages 12 and older.
  • Moderna’s 50-microgram booster is authorized for adults only.
  • The fall boosters are available at pharmacies, community health centers, and doctors' offices around the country.
  • You can now schedule a fall booster appointment through CVS or Walgreens, or find a vaccination site near you through Vaccines.gov.
  • The modified shots are now the only available boosters for people ages 12 and older. The previous boosters are no longer authorized for this age group. 

 

Experts recommend waiting four to six months after your last shot to get the fall booster. 

  • Both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s boosters are authorized for people at least two months out from their last shot. But doctors and immunologists recommend
    waiting four to six months to optimize protection
  • People who are at high risk or who have an important upcoming event may consider getting their fall booster sooner.
  • Individuals who were recently infected should wait around three months after their infection to get a shot.
  • Don’t wait until the next surge to get a booster—protection from the shot takes a few weeks to kick in.

 

The fall boosters are expected to offer better protection against infection and severe disease. 

  • Bivalent vaccines—vaccines that protect against two different strains of a virus—have the potential to increase effectiveness against infection and trigger a
    more durable immune response.
  • The updated fall boosters are bivalent vaccines that target both the original COVID-19 strain and the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.
  • The hope is that these boosters will increase protection against severe disease, reduce the risk of Omicron infection, and provide immunity against the next
    variant of concern. 
  • Anyone who is eligible to get a fall booster can benefit from it, especially immunocompromised individuals.
View Resource Download resource: English / Spanish
Date Posted: September 13, 2022

What do you need to know about the fall booster?

Fall boosters are expected to offer better protection against BA.5.

  • Both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s updated boosters are bivalent vaccines that target the original COVID-19 strain as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.
  • Pfizer’s vaccine will be available for people ages 12 and older, while Moderna’s will be available for people ages 18 and older.
  • The updated boosters are expected to strengthen protection against BA.5 infection and severe disease.
  • The hope is that they will also provide longer-term immunity and broader protection against future variants. 

 

The new shots are just as safe as the original vaccines.

  • The FDA did not require the updated boosters to go through the full authorization process, including human clinical trials, because they use the same foundation as the already authorized original COVID-19 vaccines.
  • This is a similar process to the one used for the flu vaccine, which is altered each year to target the strains most likely to be dominant.
  • Federal health officials stress that the updated boosters are just as safe as the original vaccines.
  • However, since the updated boosters did not go through human trials, we don’t yet know how effective they will be. Pfizer and Moderna will present effectiveness data from animal trials during the CDC advisory meeting this week.

 

The updated boosters will be critical to preparing for a potential fall or winter surge.

  • The original COVID-19 vaccines continue to be effective against severe disease, but they do not offer strong protection against Omicron infection.
  • The updated boosters will ideally provide more targeted protection against BA.5 and future circulating Omicron variants.
  •  By decreasing the risk of infection, the new vaccines could also minimize hospitalizations and deaths, especially among immunocompromised individuals.
  • Staying up to date on vaccinations remains one of the best ways to protect against COVID-19.
View Resource Download resource: English / Spanish
Date Posted: August 23, 2022

New COVID-19 guidance for schools

The CDC relaxes routine testing, quarantine, and social distancing recommendations.

  • Schools no longer need to conduct routine testing. However, if community transmission is high in the area, schools should implement testing for high-risk activities, such as close-contact sports and the first day back from holidays.
  • The CDC no longer advises students or school staff who are exposed to the virus to quarantine. Instead, people who are exposed should wear a mask for 10 days and get tested on day five.
  • Schools do not need to divide students into “cohorts” anymore, a strategy used to reduce viral transmission.

 

The CDC shifts focus to improving ventilation and implementing safety measures for high-risk situations.

  • The CDC no longer recommends social distancing. Instead, it emphasizes the need for improved ventilation in schools as a way to reduce viral transmission.
  • The agency continues to recommend masks indoors in areas with high community transmission. Currently, students in 40 percent of U.S. counties should wear a mask in school.
  • Although routine testing is no longer recommended, the CDC still advises people to test when exposed, sick, or in high-risk situations.
  • Staying up to date on vaccinations, staying home when sick, and hand washing remain key aspects of both local and federal COVID-19 guidance.

 

The new guidance shifts the responsibility of risk reduction onto students and their families.

  • The CDC relaxed its COVID-19 guidance to account for the fact that most Americans now have some sort of protection against COVID-19, either through prior infection or vaccination.
  • The new guidance aims to minimize disruptions at schools.
  • The best way to keep kids safe from COVID-19 is to get them vaccinated. Fewer than one-third of children 5 to 11 have gotten two vaccine doses.
  • Parents can help limit transmission by testing their kids if they show symptoms, if there is a chance of exposure, or if they attended a high-risk event. The FDA recommends taking three at-home tests if exposed to increase the likelihood that the tests catch any positive cases.
  • Students can protect themselves and others by wearing high-quality, well-fitting masks in high-risk situations.
View Resource Download resource: English / Spanish