COVID Booster Gives Greater Protection in Nursing Homes Amid Omicron, New CDC Study Says

A new CDC study found that nursing home residents who received a COVID booster were better protected against the Omicron variant

Boston, MA - November 9: A registered nurse draws up a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 booster at Park Avenue Health Center in Arlington, MA on November 9, 2021. Nursing home leaders are now facing another sobering reality. Immunity is waning from COVID shots administered to many of their residents and staff early this year. Just 27 percent of nursing home staffers had received boosters by late October, and now many nursing homes are trying to convince workers to get their boosters. In hopes of creating as much protection in their facility as possible, Park Avenue is offering boosters to any staff, resident or residents' family members who want them.
Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nursing home residents who received a COVID booster, or an additional primary dose, were greater protected against Omicron variant infection.

This applies to those residents who got more than two shots of an mRNA vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, or one injection of Johnson & Johnson.

Nursing home residents were prioritized for early coronavirus vaccination and encountered disproportionally high levels of COVID-19–associated morbidity and mortality.

Patients who obtained a booster had just under 50% lower rate of infection compared to those with only the primary series, according to the data that examined about 15,000 nursing homes over a month.

In March, over 60% of nursing home residents had received an additional shot, and the CDC continues to recommend those eligible get vaccinated.

To note, data is limited on vaccine effectiveness regarding boosters against the highly transmissible B.1.1.529 and BA.2 strains.

The study was made public a day after the U.S. hit a grim milestone on Wednesday by surpassing 1 million COVID-19 deaths, based on an NBC News tally, 27 months after the country's first case.

In New York state, hospitalizations soared nearly three-fold, topping 2,000 since last February as highly contagious omicron subvariants circulate. New York City raised the COVID alert level to "medium" on Monday as cases exceeded a rate of 200 per 100,000 people.

This is the first time Mayor Eric Adams' administration has upped the level since the measuring system launched. Manhattan leads out of the five boroughs with the highest transmission rate, followed by Staten Island.

City hospitalizations and deaths are on the decline, which is an important measure to consider to prevent an overwhelmed health care system. It also shows the efficacy of the vaccines, experts say.

At this time, new NYC COVID protocols have not been implemented, but if the risk level goes "high," the city will consider requiring face masks in all public indoor settings.

NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan urges New Yorkers to exercise more caution than in previous weeks and to avoid crowded indoor situations.

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