The need for boosters
U.S. long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other senior care facilities, have been ravaged by the pandemic, claiming more than 200,000 COVID-19 deaths among residents and staff. Institutions account for about one-fifth of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States, with more than 170,000 of those deaths attributed specifically to nursing homes.
The CDC began recommending boosters for residents of nursing homes last September because studies have shown that vaccination becomes less effective over time, especially for people 65 and older.
A recent CDC study of vaccination data from the nation’s 15,000 nursing homes found that an extra or booster dose of a COVID vaccine provided 47% greater protection against infection when the omicron was the dominant strain. Given that residents are at high risk of illness and death from COVID-19, efforts to maximize booster coverage among them “are essential,” the study concluded.
The CDC recommended recalls for nursing home workers in December of last year, amid the omicron wave. Studies have shown that boosters provide significantly better protection against omicron than simple vaccinations in the initial series.
Second booster shots have since been authorized for all people over 50 and many immunocompromised people, after data from Israel showed increased protection from a fourth dose against COVID infection and serious illnesses. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said second boosters are “especially important” for people over 65 and those over 50 with chronic health conditions – both of which are strongly represented in the population. retirement homes.
Federal data on second booster shots in nursing homes is currently unavailable.
Vaccine hesitancy, confusion over booster eligibility and effectiveness, and pandemic fatigue are likely contributing to slow booster adoption, experts say. Additionally, while there was a federal program to quickly administer the first round of vaccinations to the nursing home population when they became available, the administration of boosters was left to individual facilities or health services. local or state health in some states.