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Wednesday
October 27th, 2021
L&T Opinions Page

roger marshallGUEST COLUMN, Roger Marshall, U.S. Senate

 

Seniors: talk to your doctor or pharmacist about getting your COVID-19 booster shot as soon as possible. With the Delta variant threatening efforts to return to normalcy and preliminary data suggesting COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness may decline after completing your initial shots, the focus on boosters has intensified, and I’ve been fighting to get seniors their COVID-19 booster shots for months.

Science shows us seniors and people with certain medical conditions are among the highest risk for severe infection and death as they may not generate a sufficient level of protection from their first COVID-19 shots. In fact, the latest data from the CDC shows that 87 percent of deaths and 70 percent of the non-fatal hospitalizations from COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infections were seniors.

Israel, the United Kingdom, and several other countries have issued strategies to offer boosters to vulnerable populations, starting with the immunocompromised and the elderly. While some countries are expected to issue recommendations very soon, Israel is ahead of the curve where patients are recommended to receive a booster shot after five months of completing their two-dose regimen. These countries followed a thorough review of vaccine and breakthrough infection data. Initial reports found boosters reduced the risk of infection for the 60-plus age group by 86 percent and against severe infection by 92 percent.

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Many of these countries’ health agencies justified their booster recommendations based on data including the risk of complications, exposure, waning immunity, and the risk of the virus’ variants, and began or will begin with their seniors and immunocompromised patients. While, other countries including Russia, Hungary, and United Arab Emirates will offer boosters more broadly to people just a few months after their last dose.

For these reasons, I’ve been urging President Biden to direct federal health agencies to ensure all seniors are prioritized for COVID-19 boosters immediately. With the Delta variant ripping across our country, we can’t wait one more day to increase our seniors’ immunity to this horrible virus.

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