Many of even the most staunch advocates of Covid vaccines have become weary, and perhaps wary of the ongoing booster campaigns to protect adults from serious infection leading to hospitalization. But as emergency rooms fill with influenza, RSV, and Covid patients, the CDC is hoping to revitalize a trailing vaccine booster campaign with new study results that show people who received the updated boosters had a 57 percent lower risk of hospitalization than unvaccinated people. A second study found that among people ages 65 and older, the updated Covid boosters lowered the risk of hospitalization by 84 percent compared with unvaccinated people.
According to a recent New York Times report, the CDC’s second study, which used data from 22 hospitals from early September to late November showed the updated boosters lower the risk of Covid hospitalization for seniors by 73 percent compared with people who had only received two doses of the original vaccines. The strong effectiveness among older adults is encouraging for seniors who are at risk for complications from Covid infection.
The initial CDC study did not account for prior infection with Covid, or if certain groups were more likely to have received treatments like Paxlovid, which could have influenced the results. Although health officials don’t expect to see spikes of Covid hospitalization experienced in prior seasons, this winter’s influenza and RSV waves are taxing health systems, leading to an increased call for vaccination, testing and masking in certain settings. Antiviral medications for Covid have also become difficult to find.
Because Omicron subvariants are better able to evade the body’s immune system, the reformulated booster shots are an important tool to help reduce the rising number of Covid cases and hospitalizations seen in recent weeks. According to the NYT, about 375 Americans are dying each day on average – a 50 percent increase over the past two weeks. And older adults have been hit hardest.
It’s never too late to get the added protection of a Covid booster shot. Contact your doctor or local health unit to schedule an appointment or learn more. If you have recently had COVID-19, you may be advised to wait three months from when symptoms started or when you first received a positive test before getting a booster shot.