Over two years after COVID vaccines were approved in the United States, barely two-thirds of the country have received their first two shots. Furthermore, less than one-third have received the updated bivalent booster that became available this past September. This latest booster was specially formulated against the Omicron strain that was flourishing last summer. In this era of rapidly mutating viral strains of COVID, scientists have found that the type of booster target is less important to the body’s protection against disease than the recency of the shot. Less than half of nursing home residents who comprise the most vulnerable population have up-to-date vaccinations. Even more alarmingly, only 22 percent of nursing home workers have up-to-date vaccinations.
In addition to protecting all vulnerable populations, here are 5 reasons why staying up-to-date with COVID vaccines will be beneficial to the general population.
1. Less chance of dying
For people without significant comorbidities, the chance of dying from COVID has become virtually zero if they are up-to-date on their vaccines. For those who have lesser degrees of vaccinations, the chances of dying of COVID go up exponentially.
2. Decreased hospitalizations
The US leads developed countries in hospitalization rates for COVID. Even after the Christmas holidays, flu and RSV hospitalizations decreased, but COVID hospitalizations continued to increase. The new subvariants have been causing the cases that have been spurring these hospitalizations. Being up-to-date with COVID vaccinations has been shown to decrease hospitalizations.
3. Safety from Long COVID Recent estimates have shown that the effects of Long COVID could provide a $3.7 trillion drain on the US economy. Other studies have shown that conservatively over 3 million people or 1.8% of the US labor force could be plagued with Long COVID. A recent systematic review showed that consistently since the beginning of vaccine availability, the likelihood of Long COVID has been diminished with COVID vaccination.
4. Fewer sick days from COVID
Up-to-date COVID vaccinations give individuals the best possible protection for their antibodies to fight a new COVID infection after exposure. Initial registration trials for the mRNA vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna gained approvals for the vaccines based on decreased numbers of symptomatic infections. Naturally, people with fewer symptoms will miss less work. A study by Aaron Sojourner of the Upjohn Institute corroborated these findings and found that vaccinated individuals missed less work in a population of mostly lower-income workers.
5. Protection from COVID infections
Being vaccinated can lessen the odds of developing COVID. In a prospective study of a high-risk population (healthcare workers, first responders, and other frontline workers), the vaccinated group had a 91% decreased likelihood of developing symptomatic or asymptomatic COVID infection. These authors also found that vaccinated individuals tended to have smaller viral loads and days in bed if they were to become infected as well.
COVID vaccinations by Pfizer and Moderna have received full FDA approval. They have been used by billions of people and publicly reviewed data have shown they remain effective with acceptable safety profiles. Until the risk of COVID infection is fully over, everyone should be receiving up-to-date vaccinations for the safety of themselves and their loved ones.