It’s been reassuring that the FDA and CDC have taken a methodical, science-based approach to the pandemic.

But the delay in widespread expansion of the COVID-19 booster shot to the general public is threatening to increase the troubling rise in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Already three states — California, Colorado and New Mexico — are allowing COVID-19 booster shots for all adults, even though federal health officials still recommend limiting shots to patients considered most at risk.

Those states have have some of the nation’s highest rates of new COVID infections, but many others, including Minnesota, are seeing more cases. Hospitalizations are rising fast, particularly in outstate Minnesota.

While the unvaccinated account for the most hospitalizations, breakthrough cases among the vaccinated are also rising.

Recent studies have shown that the vaccinated are less likely to need to be hospitalized, but also that the effectiveness of the COVID vaccines declines significantly after six months.

That decline in efficacy is disheartening to many, but the science shows that a booster shot increases the effectiveness of the original vaccination and increases the safety of those who get it.

That’s why availability of a booster shot to anyone who wants one makes sense. And that’s why some states are simply bypassing the CDC guidelines and allowing boosters for the general public. Even in states that haven’t officially opened up boosters for all, it appears many pharmacies and health care facilities are starting to allow those who want boosters to get them.

News reports say there is currently a debate among top health officials about whether to expand booster shots, with some concerned it could detract from getting more people their initial vaccinations.

But as it becomes clearer that COVID is stubbornly inflicting damage, and that initial vaccinations become less effective with time, the FDA and CDC need to react.

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