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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated COVID-19 booster guidance for immune compromised people and those over 65 years old.
COVID-19 transmission rates in the Puget Sound region remain moderately high.
The vast majority of COVID deaths are among people over 65 and those with compromised immune systems.
The CDC and Swedish strongly recommend vaccinations as the best way to protect yourself, your family and your community.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week recommended an additional, updated COVID-19 booster for people over the age of 65 as well as those who are immune compromised. The recommendation follows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the second booster and the introduction of the first updated booster last September.
According to a statement for the CDC, the new booster guidance is simplified and allows more flexibility for people at higher risk who want an option of added protection.
While COVID-19 has stabilized in the United States, the virus is still a threat to many higher-risk individuals. And as the protections of an initial booster wane, these groups become even more vulnerable. Additionally, people are still getting sick and dying from COVID; more than 70,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19 since early October. The vast majority of those deaths are among people 70 and older or who have compromised immune systems.
We spoke with Evan Sylvester, senior director of infection prevention at Providence Swedish, about the new booster guidance and what you should know before rolling up your sleeve.
“COVID transmission rates in the Puget Sound remain moderately high, which can have very serious outcomes for anyone who is immune compromised or over the age of 65,” says Evan. “You can support the health of everyone in our communities by ensuring you stay up to date with COVID vaccinations.”
Who should get the new booster?
According to the CDC:
- those who are at least 65 years an older may receive a 2nd booster at least 4 months after the initial booster.
- those who are immune compromised are eligible may receive a 2nd booster at least 2 months after the initial booster.
Is the new booster mandatory?
No. The new guidance makes the booster available for high-risk groups but does not mandate it.
Do I need a booster if I’m not in one of these groups?
No. If you have already received your updated, bivalent booster you don’t need a second one. However, if you have not, it is highly recommended. The CDC recommends that everyone age 6 and older get an updated booster—whether or not they have completed their primary vaccination series. If you remain unvaccinated, the CDC (and we here at Swedish) STRONGLY recommend getting vaccinated now.
What about my kids?
Ahead of the CDC announcement, the FDA also updated the vaccine guidance as follows for children 6 months through 5 years of age:
- Children 6 months through 5 years of age who are unvaccinated may receive a two-dose series of the Moderna bivalent vaccine (6 months through 5 years of age) OR a three-dose series of the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent vaccine (6 months through 4 years of age). Children who are 5 years of age may receive two doses of the Moderna bivalent vaccine or a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent vaccine.
- Children 6 months through 5 years of age who have received one, two or three doses of a monovalent COVID-19 vaccine may receive a bivalent vaccine, but the number of doses that they receive will depend on the vaccine and their vaccination history.
“The new bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster provides an added layer of protection,” Evan affirms. “Data from the CDC shows that receiving 2 or 3 doses of an mRNA COVID vaccine can reduce severe COVID outcomes and a fourth dose (which is a second booster) can protect us from severe and moderate illness. Since immunity wanes over time, people over 65 and those who are immune compromised can significantly benefit from re-boosting their immune system to prevent serious COVID-19 illness.”
Learn more and find a provider
If you have concerns about your health or it’s time for a check-up, it’s important to see a primary care provider. Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult a doctor virtually, you have options.
Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory.
Join our Patient and Family Advisory Council.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.
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