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CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccine boosters for people 5 and up; households can order more free at-home tests: Coronavirus update for Friday, May 20

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 5/20/2022 Julie Washington,

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine boosters to Americans 5 and up, and households can now order eight more free at-home COVID-19 tests through a White House program. is rounding up some of the most notable coronavirus news making headlines online. Here’s what you need to know for Friday, May 20.

CDC recommends boosters for everyone 5 and older

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine boosters to Americans 5 and up. The CDC now recommends that children ages 5 to 11 should receive a booster shot five months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series.

The CDC recommendation follows The Food and Drug Administration authorization of a third shot of the Pfiezr-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The Pfizer shot is the only vaccine available to children in this age group, and two shots have provided disappointing protection to children in this age group in real-world studies.

While COVID-19 is usually less severe in children, the wave of infections caused by the omicron variant has resulted “in more kids getting sick with the disease and being hospitalized, and children may also experience longer term effects, even following initially mild disease,” FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf said in a statement.

The CDC also strengthened its recommendation that Americans 12 and older who are immunocompromised, and those 50 and older, should receive a second booster dose at least four months after their first COVID-19 vaccination.

“While older Americans have the highest coverage of any age group of first booster doses, most older Americans received their last dose (either their primary series or their first booster dose) many months ago, leaving many who are vulnerable without the protection they may need to prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death,” the CDC said in a statement.

Federal government makes more free at-home COVID-19 tests available

Households can now order eight more free at-home COVID-19 tests, the White House announced this week. The tests are available at

The Biden administration previously committed to making 1 billion at-home tests available to American households at no charge and has so far distributed 350 million tests, according to news reports.

Households were allowed to order four tests at a time in January and March.

Positive home tests are only included in the official case count when the test-taker reports their result or confirms it with a PCR test.

Alcohol use disorder-related deaths rose during pandemic, study suggests

Deaths involving alcohol use disorder increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, suggests a new study by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center investigators.

Alcohol use disorder-related mortality rates increased among all ages and sexes during the pandemic, but people 25 to 44 experienced the steepest upward trend in alcohol use disorder mortality, the study also suggested.

The research was published recently in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Network Open.

Investigators obtained mortality data for 2012-2019 from a CDC database that registers almost all U.S. deaths. Researchers used predictive modeling to determine 2020 and 2021 projected mortality rates based on previous years’ trends, and compared those with the observed rates.

Results include:

  • Observed alcohol use disorder-related deaths were about 25% higher than projected rates in 2020.
  • Observed rates were about 22% higher than projected in 2021.
  • The increase in predicted versus observed mortality was similar for both sexes — approximately 25% for women and men in 2020 versus 20% for women and 22% for men in 2021.

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