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COVID booster shots have been expanded in the United States to now be available to children aged 5-11, while the CDC is advising that everyone aged 50 and over should get a second booster shot.

In a Friday update, the CDC says it's now advising those aged 12 and older who are immunocompromised and those aged 50 and older should get a second booster at least four months after they received their first.

"Over the past month we have seen steady increases in cases, with a steep and substantial increase in hospitalizations for older Americans," the CDC said. 

"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."

In Minnesota, cases have been rising again over the past six weeks thanks to new Omicron subvariants, more of which are expected to arrive in the state over the next few months.

While hospitalizations and deaths have risen at a slower rate than cases, the virus still poses a risk of death particularly to unvaccinated people, as well as those with underlying conditions and the elderly.

What's more, cases of long COVID even in people who have had mild or symptomless bouts of the virus is becoming an increasing issue, causing potentially long-term health risks that has the potential to impact hospital capacity.

The virus has killed more than 12,500 Minnesotans so far and more than a million nationally, and the more it spreads the greater the chance it will spark new variants that could prove better at evading immunity, or more serious than Omicron presents.

Those who have not had a booster shot since December 2021 are now eligible, while the CDC is urging people to get their Pfizer-vaccinated children aged 5-11 a booster provided it's been five months since their second original shot.

Parents are still waiting on the approval of a Moderna COVID vaccine for children aged 5 and under, which is hoped could be made available by the summer.

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