A new study published this week found that the second COVID-19 booster made available to American adults over 50 this year was highly effective in protecting nursing home residents from hospitalizations and deaths, although its ability to prevent infections is not as strong.
The analysis, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, compared nursing home residents who received a second booster dose of the original mRNA to those who did not. did not receive the additional injection.
According to the study, the second vaccine was 90% effective in preventing coronavirus-related deaths and 74% effective in preventing severe cases that resulted in hospitalizations or deaths.
However, the vaccine was about 26% effective in preventing infection. This study looked at cases between March 29 and July 25. It was during this period that the BA.5 omicron subvariant became dominant in the United States.
By the end of July, BA.5 accounted for four out of five coronavirus cases, and experts had noted its ability to evade protection from vaccination and previous infections.
The 9,527 nursing home residents included in the study had received their booster within 60 days when followed by researchers. To be eligible, participants had to have stayed in a nursing home for more than 100 days, spent less than 10 days outside the facility, and had received three prior vaccine doses, with the last dose received more 120 days ago.
Nearly 200 nursing homes from 19 states were included in the study.
Nursing homes have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus throughout the pandemic. About three in four COVID-19-related deaths were in people over 65. When the delta variant spread to the United States last year, coronavirus deaths increased at a faster rate in nursing homes than in the rest of the country.
“These results suggest that among nursing home residents, second booster doses of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine provided additional protection over first booster doses against severe COVID-19 outcomes at a time of emergence of Omicron variants,” the researchers wrote.
“Facilities should continue to ensure that nursing home residents remain up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccination, including booster doses of the bivalent vaccine, to prevent serious consequences of COVID-19.”
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha welcomed the study’s findings.
“That’s why we’re working so hard to make sure people, especially high-risk people, get the latest vaccine,” Jha tweeted.
If they have not recently been vaccinated again or infected with the virus, many participants in this study would now be eligible to receive the omicron-specific COVID-19 bivalent booster. The updated shot was cleared in late August.
The White House has strongly encouraged eligible people to get the bivalent booster, hoping to avoid a further spike in coronavirus cases in the fall and winter. The dose was followed by some uncertainty, as it was approved before a full human study was completed, with Pfizer and Moderna submitting animal data, as is the case for annual vaccines against influenza.
Pfizer and Moderna recently submitted applications for permission from the Food and Drug Administration to administer their injections to younger populations. Pfizer’s bivalent booster is licensed for children as young as 12, while Moderna’s is currently only licensed for adults.