Will Americans need another booster shot in the future? Dr. Fauci isn't sure: COVID-19 updates

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, isn’t sure whether Americans will need another COVID-19 vaccine booster in the future.

“The honest answer is that we do not know at this point, but we’re collecting data,” Fauci said Monday at a White House briefing. “We may not need to get boosted every six months or so but if we do, we’ll address it. We’ll find the data, make it public and address it accordingly.”

Fauci said several studies from across the globe have made it clear that boosters “significantly enhance protection” from COVID-19. The hope is that the booster dose gives the immune response “a chance to mature and strengthen” significantly, he said, and last longer than the second dose, which waned in effectiveness after several months.

Boosters are available at more than 80,000 locations nationwide and about 36% of Americans have already been boosted, said Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator.

There's been an 8% increase in COVID-19 cases nationwide compared to last week and an average of 1,000 deaths per day. But CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said America is "heading into a very different Thanksgiving than last year because now we have the tools” to fight the pandemic, which she said has continued because of unvaccinated individuals.

Walensky and Fauci encouraged Americans to gather for the holiday season so long as they’re doing so safely, which means adhering to all the “prevention measures” including getting vaccinated and wearing masks when applicable. Taking a rapid test before gathering with people from a different household could be considered an extra layer of protection, Walensky said. Read more about boosters here.

Also in the news:

►Dutch coronavirus infection numbers hit a new weekly record Tuesday, climbing 39% while hospital and intensive care unit admissions also rose sharply, prompting the government to make social distancing mandatory again for all adults.

►The World Health Organization’s Europe office says projections show its 53-country region could face another 700,000 deaths in the coronavirus pandemic by next spring, topping 2 million in total.

►The Department of Defense announced Monday it awarded Pfizer $1.4 billion for an additional 200 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, which will be distributed internationally.

►Republican legislators moved Monday to make it easy for workers in Kansas to claim religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates, but their leaders were divided over whether they also needed to promise unemployment benefits for people refusing the shots.

📈Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 47.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 772,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 258.3 million cases and 5.1 million deaths. More than 196 million Americans – 59.2% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we're reading: When New York City opened schools in person this fall, with no online option, some families kept kids home. Some parents say they have been accused of neglect.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY's Coronavirus Watch free newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

U.S. will require vaccines for all border crossers starting in January

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will require essential, nonresident travelers crossing U.S. land borders, such as truck drivers, government and emergency response officials, to be fully vaccinated beginning on Jan. 22, the administration planned to announce Tuesday.

A senior administration official said the requirement, which the White House previewed in October, brings the rules for essential travelers in line with those that took effect earlier this month for leisure travelers, when the U.S. reopened its borders to fully vaccinated individuals.

Essential travelers entering by ferry will also be required to be fully vaccinated by the same date, the official said. The official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement.

The rules pertain to non-U.S. nationals. American citizens and permanent residents may still enter the U.S. regardless of their vaccination status, but face additional testing hurdles because officials believe they more easily contract and spread COVID-19 and in order to encourage them to get a shot.

– Associated Press

Oregon drops outdoor mask mandate

PORTLAND, Ore. — As COVID-19 cases in Oregon continue to decrease, health officials announced Tuesday they are immediately lifting statewide mask requirements in crowded outdoor settings.

Oregon was the first state in the U.S. to reimplement an outdoor mask mandate for both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents in August as the delta variant spread. The state has had some of the strictest statewide coronavirus-related restrictions and safety measures during the pandemic.

Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said the outdoor masking change applies to schools, too, meaning they no longer have to require them when students are outside. However, the state is leaving this decision up to each local district, recognizing some counties and areas are in different situations with COVID-19 than others. Some may continue to have students mask up outside.

When Oregon mandated outdoor masks — which included large outdoor events where physical distancing is not possible, such as concerts and football games — the state was in the midst of its worst surge during the pandemic. But over the past six weeks, health officials say Oregon’s daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have steadily declined. Last week, cases decreased by 12% from the previous week.

The unmasking news comes just days before more than 50,000 fans are expected to pack into Autzen Stadium for Saturday's Oregon-Oregon State rivalry game.

– Jordyn Brown, Eugene Register-Guard

20% of Los Angeles students missed vaccine status deadline

Over 20% of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the nation, missed the Sunday deadline to report their vaccination status and risk not being able to attend in-person classes.

As of Monday, 79% of students have complete, pending or partial vaccination records or qualify for conditional admission or a medical exemption, the district said on Twitter.

All eligible students are expected to be fully vaccinated and upload their vaccination records before the start of the spring semester on Jan. 10 or risk not being able to take in-person classes.

Unvaccinated students will either have to enroll in a school outside of the Los Angeles Unified School District or will be transferred to an independent study program called City of Angels, which offers either educational programs through weekly appointments or fully-online learning, the school's website says.

The City of Angels program has struggled with staffing shortages and instability as a large number of students enrolled during the pandemic, the Los Angeles Times reported.

– Celina Tebor, USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID boosters: 36% of Americans have gotten 3rd dose: Updates