While COVID-19 is no longer considered a health emergency in many areas, health authorities are continuing to work on new vaccinations. In fact, federal officials are considering authorizing a new booster sometime later this spring.
Currently, the exact timing remains unclear. For those above the age of 65 or those with underlying health conditions, however, another round of booster shots may provide additional protection against severe COVID-19, which can lead to long-term complications.
According to Barbara Ferrer, the Los Angeles County Public Health Director, many people who are at a higher risk of COVID-19 have already been asking whether or not they need a booster shot.
In Britain, health authorities have already approved a new booster shot, however, it is currently only available to those above the age of 75, those who are immunocompromised, and nursing home residents. In a statement, the chair of Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, Dr. Wei Shen Lim said that the new booster program aims to provide protection throughout the summer months.
In Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is also recommending a similar plan: making a new booster shot available for seniors above the age of 65, nursing home residents, and immunocompromised.
In the United States, however, interest in vaccination seems to be waning as less than half of vaccinated seniors have received the booster shot. And among all age groups, only one-quarter of eligible California residents (those who have received the primary vaccines) have gotten the new bivalent boosters that were released in September.
Emerging health data has demonstrated that the bivalent booster shot offers significant protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death; this is especially true for those over 65.
For example, those between the ages of 65 and 79 in Los Angeles Country, who received the bivalent booster, had one-tenth the risk of needing hospitalization compared to those who have not received a shot. The benefits are also noticeable among younger adults between the ages of 30 and 40. That is, those who got the updated bivalent shot had one-sixth the risk of needing hospitalization compared to their unvaccinated counterparts.
Not only that but it also dramatically reduces the risk of death. For those between the ages of 65 and 79, the bivalent vaccine provides protection so that they are one-tenth as likely to die from a COVID-19 infection.