Why young and healthy people should get the Covid vaccine

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Booster shots of the Covid vaccine could be on the horizon for all American adults – and, according to new research, that decision could be right in time.

On Tuesday, Pfizer asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow booster shots of its Covid-19 vaccine for all Americans 18 years of age and older. The FDA could approve the request before Thanksgiving, according to the New York Times.

Moderna is expected to submit a similar request to the FDA “soon,” the Times noted. Any new eligibility batch will still need to be approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before it becomes official.

If the FDA and CDC approve Pfizer’s request, every currently fully vaccinated American adult – more than 181 million of them – will become eligible for the recall. Currently, the only people who can receive booster shots are:

  • people aged 65 and over
  • adults at high risk of exposure to Covid, due to their work or living conditions
  • adults with certain underlying medical conditions that put them at risk for serious illness from Covid
  • anyone who has received the Johnson & Johnson single injection vaccine

So far, nearly 25 million U.S. adults have received a Covid vaccine booster, according to CDC data.

In September, an FDA advisory group voted against allowing boosters for people 16 and older. At the time, experts said, two doses of the Covid mRNA vaccine still offered sufficient protection against serious hospitalization and death for healthy young Americans.

But now, a surge of new data points to the benefits of widespread boosters, Christopher Mores, professor of global health at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, told CNBC Make It.

Here’s why, and whether or not receiving this reminder – once you’re eligible – is a good idea.

Why Covid Vaccine Booster Injections Are Bigger Now Than They Were In September

The initial rationale for distributing the reminders was simple: Some people needed additional Covid protection to avoid hospitalizations and deaths, but most did not. For the majority of fully vaccinated people, contracting Covid meant extremely mild symptoms, if any symptoms at all.

That calculation has changed, says Dr. Colleen Kelley, associate professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine. The virus that causes Covid continues to spread, largely because of millions of people who are unvaccinated, and vaccine protection declines more significantly over time than experts predicted two months ago.

This means that the risks of major infections in fully vaccinated people – with potentially serious symptoms – increase.. Booster injections, Kelley says, can raise antibody levels enough to help prevent these infections and reduce any breakthrough symptoms to mild or nonexistent.

Last month, an Israeli study of 4.8 million vaccinated adults compared infection rates in people four to six months after being fully vaccinated. At six months, the rate nearly doubled to 3.3 cases per 1,000 people, from just 1.7 at four months.

“While the Delta variant has certainly played a role in the resurgence of Covid-19 in recent months, these results suggest that the decrease in immunity is also an important factor,” the director of the National Institutes of Health wrote on Tuesday, Dr. Francis Collins in a blog post. on the Israeli study.

Likewise, a large study of Covid vaccines among U.S. veterans released last week found that for the country’s three approved options, protection declined dramatically in people who had been fully vaccinated for six months – up to 48. 1%, against 87.9% initially. . According to the study, all three vaccines remain very effective in preventing death.

“The boosters have a role to play there in picking up that and not allowing so many breakthroughs to happen,” says Mores.

Why should you consider getting a booster as soon as you are eligible

Everyone’s individual health and risk profile is different, so be sure to consult your doctor before proceeding, but generally speaking, most people should receive a booster once eligible. It’s a low-risk, high-reward choice, according to experts.

“There is no indication that there is anything inherently risky about getting a booster of this vaccine,” Mores said. “There is certainly something inherently risky about being infected with Covid. “

You should especially plan for a booster shot if you want to be indoors with other people during the winter months or travel during the holidays, says Dr. Sadiya Khan, assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The bigger question may be which booster to get. Anyone who is eligible can receive a booster dose of any of the country’s three authorized vaccines, regardless of which one they initially received.

Adult women under 50 should consider an mRNA booster from Pfizer or Moderna, says Dr William Schaffner, professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University in the division of infectious diseases. This is because J & J’s vaccine can, in rare cases, cause blood clotting disorders for this demographic group.

Likewise, both mRNA vaccines have become associated with increased rates of myocarditis or inflammation of the heart, especially in younger men, but Kelley says such cases are very rare, extremely mild, and fairly easy to manage. .

“It’s really important to look at the booster as a safe way to get back to normal life,” Khan said. “That is really the point here: not to continue living in a pandemic world, but to try to overcome it.”

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