Do you really need a second vaccination from COVID? What you need to know

Now is the time for those at greater risk of COVID-19 to get a second booster dose, said the Los Angeles County Health Director, citing less than ideal overall vaccination rates along with concerns surrounding the rapid spread of highly contagious asthma. .2 Omicron Subvariant.

“Witnesses around the world are showing that protection against vaccines is declining over time,” Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday. “People who are at high risk, the elderly, people with serious illnesses: don’t delay.”

Ferrer made the comment a few days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made another booster dose for adults 50 and older, as well as for those 12 and older and the elderly who have a weakened immune system.

“I hear a lot [of] “I’ll just wait.” I think there will be something better. I don’t want to be vaccinated every four months. ” But if the protection is diminishing and you can get an injection that really boosts your defenses and you are a person at higher or higher risk, it makes sense to go ahead and get that booker dose, ”Ferrer said.

Millions of people who are unaware of their vaccinations against COVID-19 remain in Los Angeles County, Ferrer said: 1.7 million people aged 5 and older have not received a single dose, and another 2.8 million have been vaccinated residents aged 12 and over who did not receive their first booster.

“These gaps in vaccination coverage pose a greater risk of coronavirus transmission,” Ferrer said. “We have enough transfers that you don’t want to increase the risk.”

Ferrer also suggested that people who had recently survived a coronavirus infection during the Omicron winter outbreak were also familiar with the vaccinations. While experiencing a recent infection will provide some degree of protection, “this innate immunity weakens over time,” Ferrer said.

“Get vaccinated, even if you’ve been infected, because it really helps ensure that your immune system is able to respond most effectively to threats from circulating strains of this virus,” Ferrer said.

This week’s decision by federal health officials to expand the next booster availability came at a time when a number of experts say they expect the country to increase coronavirus cases this spring due to the dominance of Omicron BA.2; decreased immunity; reducing the use of masks; and further mitigation of other pandemic restrictions, such as vaccination verification requirements.

Here’s everything you need to know about the pandemic and the second COVID-19 vaccine:

Why was the second amp made?

According to the FDA, the first evidence suggests that a second vaccination with Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna improves protection against serious diseases. People aged 50 and older can get a second vaccine from COVID-19 after at least four months have been removed from the first vaccine.

This will be the fourth vaccination overall for those who were originally vaccinated with the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, and the third for those who were originally vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson disposable vaccine.

Although the first vaccine retains some degree of effectiveness over time, “available data also show that immunity weakens over time to some extent in the elderly and people with weakened immune systems,” said Dr. Peter Marx, director of the Center. The FDA on Biological Assessment and Research told reporters at a briefing.

Older people and people with weakened immune systems “may be more likely to get severe results if they get COVID-19,” Marx said. Getting a second vaccination “will help save lives and prevent severe outcomes among our patients at greatest risk”.

What data does the second booster support?

Israel has already allowed a second booster for people aged 60 and older, and a recent study – not yet conducted by an expert review – suggests that a subsequent injection has reduced the risk of death from COVID-19.

Of the approximately 563,000 people between the ages of 60 and 100 in Israel who were members of a health care provider, 58% received second respiratory care. Among those who received a second booster dose, 92 people later died from COVID-19, and 232 people who had only one booster dose died.

The data show a 78% reduction in mortality among those who received the second vaccine compared with those who received one vaccination, the study found.

Another report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, as a result of a study of more than 1,000 health workers in Israel showed that the second vaccination was safe and led to an increase in antibody levels. Health workers who did not receive a second revaccination saw that their antibody levels continued to decline.

“Our data show that the fourth dose of mRNA vaccine is immunogenic, safe and to some extent effective (primarily against symptomatic disease),” the report said.

Officials are still studying whether to make a second booster available to Americans under 50.

What, according to experts, show Israeli data?

Dr Peter Chin-Hong, an expert on infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco, said Israeli data suggests the creation of a second booster in a country as large as the United States could potentially save thousands of lives.

An increase in antibody levels after the second booster dose “would mean extra protection,” said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, an epidemiologist and UCLA infectious disease expert.

Why is a second booster available for those 50 and older?

Marx said that Israel has made a second booster available to people aged 60 and over, as well as to young people who are considered at high risk of serious illness because of COVID-19.

But in the U.S., vaccine providers have found it difficult to determine who is at high risk.

Given that one in three Americans between the ages of 50 and 65 has significant underlying medical conditions, the FDA has decided to lower the eligibility threshold for a second booster to 50. This, according to Marx, “captures the population that can benefit most” from this booster. dose.

Other countries have introduced higher age criteria for a second booster for most people. Britain offers it to those aged 75 and over, and the minimum age in Sweden is 80.

And what about weakened immunity?

People with weakened immune systems in the United States over the age of 12 are also eligible for revaccination.

For recipients of Pfizer or Moderna immunocompromised vaccines, the second vaccination is equivalent to the fifth dose of vaccination; and for those who were originally vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson, a second vaccination is equivalent to a fourth dose of the vaccine.

What about J&J recipients who also received the J&J vaccine as their first booster?

The CDC has made special allowances for all adults who received both the initial and booster doses of J&J. They are authorized for a second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

A study published by the CDC found that the Pfizer or Moderna booster after the initial J&J injection was more effective in protecting against hospitalization than the J&J booster.

How would experts advise their families on a second booster?

If he had advised his relatives, Marx said he would send them to receive a second regular therapy – especially if he was at least 65 years old or had a serious illness.

“COVID-19 has had a truly disproportionate adverse effect on people aged 65 and over and those with comorbidities,” Marx said. “If you think only of people 65 and older, then every 100 of them are not with us today – who was with us before the pandemic – because of COVID-19.”

Why is the second vaccine not available to young adults?

At the moment, there is strong evidence that for young people, the first vaccination still largely maintains the level of protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death, according to Marx.

“While it may fall a little, it’s not very significant,” he said.

Should vaccine brands be mixed or combined?

Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translation Research Institute in La Jolla, suggested on Twitter that if your primary vaccination series was Moderna, you should think about what Pfizer would be vaccinating, and vice versa.

Poplar cites a report in the journal Science Translational Medicine, which states that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines provide different types of protection.

Why didn’t officials wait for the Omicron amp?

The second proposed booster will have the same formulation as the vaccines that have existed since late 2020, based on the original version of the coronavirus.

Work is underway on a specific version of the Omicron vaccine. But federal officials have decided not to wait, given that no one is ready and that some countries are already seeing a significant increase in coronavirus cases – a stroke caused by Omicron BA.2, which also leads to further hospitalizations and deaths.

Poplar wrote in a blog that, based on his discussions with the FDA, it is unlikely that the specific Omicron vaccine will be available earlier in late May or June.

Will you need another booster this fall?

It would not be surprising if officials present another booster in the fall, Marx said. The FDA’s Vaccine Advisory Group will discuss the issue at a meeting next week.

It is possible that this fall the federal government is proposing to combine the annual flu vaccination campaign with the COVID-19 vaccine, Marx added.

“At some point, we need to realize that this is a virus that will be with us, and that we need to fight it on a regular basis,” he said.

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