Boost! Elderly Still at High Risk for Severe COVID

Earlier this week, it was reported that President Biden had tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing only very mild symptoms and would be continuing with the regular duties of office while isolating from others for at least five days.  Because Biden had received both his coronavirus booster vaccines, he has greater protection from serious illness, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

As reported by the New York Times, Americans the age of President Biden (79), and older are making up a growing share of people dying from COVID in recent months.  With new Omicron variants evolving to evade the body’s immunity, a fourth booster dose is strongly recommended for vulnerable populations. 

Data from the CDC shows that as of early June, four times as many American seniors between 75 and 84 died each week from COVID compared with people 20 years younger.  Although coronavirus is less deadly this summer than it was at the peak of the winter Omicron wave, older adults are still at a significantly higher risk for severe illness or death than younger adults. 

With the highly contagious nature of the most recent COVID variants and the recent waves’ impact on older adults, health officials encourage everyone over the age of 50 to get a second booster dose.  Booster campaigns have dwindled in recent months as people suffer coronavirus fatigue and booster doses become less easily accessed by seniors.  But older adults, and people with underlying health conditions, are still urged to schedule a fourth COVID booster as soon as possible. 

Improving access to the anti-viral Paxlovid, which has been found to significantly lower the risk of severe COVID infection among high-risk people, is also hoped to reduce the number of deaths among older adults.  In the U.S., COVID-19 medications are now available through your doctor, local pharmacies, and health clinics.  Oral COVID medication must be taken within 5 days of the onset of symptoms.  In most Canadian provinces, a prescription from a doctor or nurse practitioner is required after a positive COVID-19 test to get a prescription for Paxlovid. Each province is responsible for its own distribution of drugs – check with your local Health Unit to learn more.