COVID-19 Omicron BA.2 and the second booster

Today I am sharing some pertinent information instead of utilizing the Q&A format from previous COVID-19 Vaccine Updates.

We are in what feels like a welcome “pause” in the pandemic, but definitely not finished yet. Omicron BA.2 is the predominant variant in the US, and we are seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases (especially with the mask mandates dropped nationally). We have learned that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, but their effectiveness begins to wane after about 4 months.

Accordingly, on March 29, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its guidance by recommending a second COVID-19 booster shot for people over age 50 if at least 4 months have passed since their first booster. For most people, this will mean a 4th shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.

It is possible that an Omicron-specific booster will be available this fall, but the current vaccines still provide a lot of protection against Omicron subvariants. During the recent Omicron surge, people who were boosted were 21 times less likely to die from COVID-19 than people who were unvaccinated, and they were 7 times less likely to be hospitalized. For these reasons, I recommend boosters for all eligible residents now.

For more information, please see the CDC’s news release.

Anthony J. Caprio, MD, is medical director at Sharon Towers and geriatrician at Atrium Health. The opinions expressed by Dr. Caprio in this article are his own and not necessarily those of Atrium Health.

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