Boosters for All?

The U.S. may soon offer booster shots to every adult. Here’s why.,


Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

The federal government’s guidance on Covid booster shots has often been confusing, but it looks as if it’s about to become much simpler.

The F.D.A. appears to be on the verge of authorizing Moderna and Pfizer booster shots for all adults in the U.S. If it does, anyone over 18 can get a booster, as long as it’s been at least six months since their last shot. (The C.D.C. has said that adults who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get a booster at least two months later.)

Dr. Anthony Fauci has become “a very, very relentless advocate” for boosters, The Times’s Sharon LaFraniere, who covers the federal government’s response to the pandemic, told us. “He keeps pointing out that the data is getting stronger.”

Today we’ll walk you through what’s compelling regulators to widen eligibility, who needs the shots most and how to get one.

Why now?

First, immunity is waning. While experts debate the pace at which the vaccines become less effective, there’s strong evidence that they do lose some of their ability to prevent Covid infections. (These charts show the decline.) While the vaccines’ protection against severe disease mostly holds, some studies suggest they become somewhat less effective at doing so, particularly for older people or others with underlying medical conditions.

Second, expanding booster access is simpler than asking Americans to consult a list of rules to determine whether they’re eligible. As our colleague Apoorva Mandavilli put it, “It’s easier to just tell people to get them.”

Third, broadening eligibility to all adults would bring the U.S. in line with the approach of other countries, including Israel and Canada. Several U.S. states have begun expanding booster access on their own, essentially declaring that they couldn’t wait for the federal government.

“Critics would say that the C.D.C. is starting to look more like a caboose than a locomotive,” Sharon says. If the agency recommends boosters for all adults, “they’re just authorizing what’s already happening.”

Who should get one?

The government has already recommended that older adults, people 50 and up with underlying medical conditions and those who are immunocompromised get an additional shot. And the C.D.C. has allowed boosters for many others.

“I’ve urged everyone I know who is higher risk to get a booster,” Zeynep Tufekci, the sociologist and Times Opinion columnist, writes.

Some experts believe that the urgency for younger, healthier Americans to get a booster is lower. But others have started to make the case for it. “All vaccinated adults would benefit from a booster,” Dr. Ashish Jha of Brown University wrote yesterday in The Atlantic.

Why? Cases are rising again — as of Wednesday, the U.S. was averaging over 88,000 new cases a day, up 23 percent from two weeks ago — and another winter surge seems possible, particularly in parts of the country with lower vaccination rates. (Look up your county’s numbers.) That increases the urgency of getting more Americans as much protection as they can.


Chart shows 7-day daily average.Credit…Source: New York Times database

And although new infections are concentrated among the unvaccinated, Jha notes, breakthrough infections have become more common. For younger and healthier adults, getting a booster can lessen the chances of getting sick and of spreading the virus to someone more vulnerable.

And boosters appear to work. Evidence from Israel, which has offered extra shots to all adults, suggests that a third Pfizer dose increases protection against infection to a level similar to the vaccine’s initial efficacy.

How do I get one?

Once the government broadens eligibility, you’ll be able to go to your local pharmacy, a doctor’s office or anywhere else where vaccines are available.

Mixing and matching different types of vaccines seems to provide a stronger immune response, Apoorva says, especially if you get a Moderna one after two Pfizer shots or following the single-dose of J.&J.

Is it ethical?

Some public health experts have urged the U.S. and other countries not to make boosters widely available. They argue that doing so will limit the supply of shots for the rest of the world, especially for residents of less wealthy countries.

But as Sharon notes, the U.S. government has already stockpiled enough vaccine doses to give boosters to the adult population. And the Biden administration, under pressure to increase the supply to poor nations, is planning to expand manufacturing capacity with the goal of producing at least a billion more doses a year.

Millions of doses have already been distributed to pharmacies and clinics around the U.S. “They cannot be recaptured and sent abroad,” Jha writes. “Either we use those doses here or we throw them away.”

More on the virus:

The first known Covid patient was a vendor at a Wuhan animal market, not an accountant who lived miles from it, a scientist says.

Austria is the first E.U. country to announce a national vaccine mandate.



House Democrats delayed a vote on the $1.85 trillion spending bill after Representative Kevin McCarthy prolonged the debate with an hourslong speech.

The Congressional Budget Office said that the bill would slightly add to the deficit. Here’s what’s in it.



An empty tent after migrants left the camp.Credit…James Hill for The New York Times

Belarus cleared the migrants camped at its main border crossing with Poland, but gave no indication about where they would go next.

The Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai disappeared from public view after accusing a former government official of sexual assault.

Other Big Stories

Oklahoma’s governor granted clemency to a death-row inmate hours before his execution.

The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse case has deliberated for 23 hours so far.

The F.B.I. kept information about the assassination of Malcolm X from investigators, according to documents from that time.

Shohei Ohtani, the home-run-swatting Los Angeles Angels pitcher, won the American League M.V.P. award. Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper won the National League award.

The Latin Grammy Awards named the Cuban protest anthem “Patria y Vida!” (or “Homeland and Life!”) song of the year. Here are the winners.


Your family’s Thanksgiving-table arguments are about something much deeper, Emily Esfahani Smith says.

The Biden administration will ultimately be judged by whether it reduced inequality and spread opportunity. So far, it’s doing that, David Brooks argues.

The European Union’s fear of migrants has given autocrats the tools for blackmail, Charlotte McDonald-Gibson writes.



The best part of being young today? Technology, respondents to a global survey say.Credit…The New York Times

Generations: Where are young people most optimistic? In poorer nations.

First person: To appease the Catholic Church, a married couple lived like brother and sister.

Competition: He helped build Tesla. Now he’s challenging its dominance.

Modern Love: He cared about her. So she broke up with him.

Advice from Wirecutter: Flannel sheets will help you stay warm.

Lives Lived: Dave Frishberg’s songs included an ode to his lawyer and a mocking look at self-congratulatory hipness. But his most famous composition was probably the “Schoolhouse Rock!” swinger “I’m Just a Bill.” He died at 88.



Throughout “30,” Adele combats misery with virtuosity.Credit…Cliff Lipson/CBS

Adele’s return

The music business has changed since Adele’s last album came out in 2015. But she is still proving to be the exception to many rules.

In a review of her new album, “30” — which deals with divorce and moving on — The Times’s Jon Pareles writes that Adele has “stood aside from the miniaturization and gimmickiness of current pop hitmaking.”

There’s a reason she’s able to. She has ardent fans across multiple generations, and she keeps her ear on pop’s history more than on fleeting trends. And those fans are primed for “30” after some high-profile promotion that included a CBS prime-time concert special, an interview with Oprah Winfrey and the covers of the American and British editions of Vogue.

Adele is a music unicorn, The Times’s Ben Sisario writes, “who not only lands headline-grabbing hits, but does so after years of inactivity, even near silence, contradicting every unwritten rule of pop-star career management.” — Claire Moses, a Morning writer


What to Cook


Credit…Michael Graydon & Nikole Herriott for The New York Times

These chicken thighs are part stew, part braise.

Six Days to Thanksgiving

Not all tables include turkeys. Here are ideas for vegetarian main dishes.

What to Watch

“King Richard,” the biopic about Venus and Serena Williams, is an old-fashioned sports drama and a “story of perseverance and the up-by-the-bootstraps pursuit of excellence,” A.O. Scott writes.

Late Night

The hosts joked about President Biden’s meeting with the leaders of Canada and Mexico.

Take the News Quiz

How well did you keep up with the headlines this week?

Now Time to Play


The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was humbled. Here is today’s puzzle — or you can play online.

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Dough raiser (five letters).

If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you Monday.

P.S. Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address 158 years ago today.

Here’s today’s print front page.

The Daily” is about Belarus. On “The Ezra Klein Show,” a discussion about America’s culture of work.

Tom Wright-Piersanti, Ashley Wu and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at

Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox.

Leave a Reply