CONNECTICUT, USA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) already recommends that immunocompromised people get a second COVID booster shot, and this week, Pfizer asked the government to extend that authorization to people over 65.
Seniors and the immunocompromised are the two groups who tend to have the hardest time keeping a strong immune response to COVID, but, to some degree, all groups have an issue with a waning immune response.
Dr. Jaime Imitola from UCONN Health said it’s a distinct possibility we will all eventually need extra boosters, too.
“The reality of coronavirus, in general, is that the immune response to coronavirus is not complete and long term,” Imitola said, “so, therefore, the need for boosters, it will remain until the numbers of the cases in the community are very, very low and, and that's not going to happen anytime soon.”
Booster shots are more helpful in some ways than in others. Dr. David Banach from UCONN Health said the regular two-dose series alone could still be a lifesaver.
“What's been shown is that for the general population, you know, two doses really does provide a strong protection against severe infection [and] hospitalizations,” he said.
Where the booster shines is by helping to stop the virus from getting in the front door in the first place.
“That third dose is important in reducing the overall risk of infection, and providing extra protection, particularly with regard to these newer variants like the omicron variant that's appeared,” Banach said.
However, immunocompromised people are still recommended to get at least a fourth shot, for extra protection, and Imitola said that’s not the only reason this is an especially dangerous time for the immunocompromised.
“In the recent winter, in the last two months, we have seen more patients with MS (Multiple Sclerosis), with immunocompromised systems, with COVID,” he said, “and the reason that this is happening is because people are have said, well, you know, ‘The pandemic is changing, I'm not gonna wear a mask, and I'm just gonna enjoy, you know, the festivities and things like that.”
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