Health Officials Urge Those Age 50+ To Get Second COVID-19 Booster Shot - Four Times Higher Risk of Death Without Booster

The COVID-19 virus crisis remains a significant health concern, especially for those aged 50 and older. The over 50 group needs to ensure they get vaccinated and maintain their booster shots regularly.

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Health Officials Urge Those Age 50+ To Get Second COVID-19 Booster Shot - Four Times Higher Risk of Death Without Booster
4 Min Read July 16th, 2022

COVID-19 vaccines remain the "single-most important tool" to protect people against serious illness, hospitalizations, and death. That was the message from the White House's COVID-19 Response Coordinator.

In a press briefing on July 12, 2022, Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, told reporters that the COVID-19 virus evolves rapidly. Still, the COVID-19 vaccine and keeping up with the boosters are vital in maintaining health and avoiding severe complications and death due to the virus. Keeping up with the booster shots becomes even more critical as you get older.   

We encourage all Americans to get vaccinated if they haven't already. And if you haven't, don't delay. Do it now. Getting vaccine — getting vaccinated now will not preclude you from getting a variant-specific vaccine later in this fall or winter.

Dr. Ashish Jha

Jha says that if you have not received a vaccine shot this year, he urges you to get one now, saying it could save your life. 

Dr. Ashish Jha

For people who are 50 years of age or older, my message is simple: If you have not gotten a vaccine shot in the year 2022, if you've not gotten one this year, please go get another vaccine shot. You are eligible for your first booster or second booster wherever you are in your vaccination schedule. If you've not gotten a vaccine shot this year, go get one now.

Dr. Ashish Jha

According to CDC's COVID Data Tracker, in April 2022, people aged 50 and older who received the primary vaccine series but only one booster dose had a four-fold higher risk of death from COVID-19 than those who received both booster doses.

COVID data tracker

Jha says receiving treatment like Paxlovid or monoclonal antibodies if infected with COVID-19. Plus, the use of face masks is still recommended and helpful. Jha also encouraged individuals to start testing for COVID-19 infection before gathering at big events.

"There is broad consensus in the scientific community that wearing a high-quality mask in indoor, public spaces is an important tool to control the spread of COVID-19. It prevents you from getting infected, and it prevents you from spreading it to others," Jha explained.

Failing to Get Booster Shots Growing Problem

In an email to MedPage Today, a CDC public affairs official said the failure of those eligible to get up to date with their COVID immunizations is a growing problem. The official that this has resulted in "a doubling of hospital admissions since spring, and it's essential that eligible individuals get their booster shots right away."

Jha says that vaccines and treatments will help prevent serious illness and death. The goal is to reduce the spread of illness, and health professionals have several tools that help do that.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said her message is very simple, those age 50 and older should get their second booster shot right away.   

Dr. Rochelle Walensky

Currently, many Americans are under-vaccinated, meaning they are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. Not all people over the age of 50 have received their first booster dose. Of those who have received their first booster dose, only 28% of those over 50 have received a second booster dose. And of those over 65, only 34% have received their second booster dose.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky

Four Times the Death Risk

Walensky reinforced that those aged 50 and older who only had the primary series of vaccine shots with one booster have a four times higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than those with a primary series and two or more booster doses, shown by the purple line.  

Since the start of the virus crisis, older adults have been at higher risk of becoming very sick due to COVID-19 infection. These additional health problems include memory fo and a higher risk of dementia, pneumonia, blood clots, and sepsis. 

Many older people have multiple pre-existing health problems that are also problematic combined with COVID-19 infection. These pe-existing problems that can make COVID-19 infection worse include:

Heart-Related COVID-19 Issues

  • arrhythmias or irregular heart rhythms

  • high blood pressure

  • heart attack history

  • peripheral artery disease 

Lung Related Issues

  • asthma

  • COPD

  • pulmonary hypertension

Plus, diabetes and obesity can also cause complications of COVID-19 infection.

Higher Risk of Those in Long-Term Care

Older adults receiving in-home health care and those living in long-term care facilities should be conscientious about preventing COVID-19 infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that, among people exposed to COVID-19, hospitalization was six times more likely, and deaths were twelve times more likely among people with pre-existing health problems compared to those who did not have health problems. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden, said that immunity wanes over time. Fauci says that vaccination and boosters are vital whether you received immunity from infection or the vaccine. from natural infection or vaccination, getting a booster.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

And I might say myself, having been someone who's been vaccinated and infected, when we get the next round of having vaccines available months later, I will be in line to get another boost after that.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Thousands of long-term care facility residents have died of the disease. Facilities and home health care providers have worked hard to limit infection, promote vaccination, and reduce the risk of complications. 

Residents of these facilities are a high-risk group due to age and pre-existing health problems. Families should ensure that their care providers are taking the appropriate precautions. Quality care providers have been doing a good job limiting the risks due to the virus crisis.

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Editor's Note

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Learn more by asking questions to an expert. Mike Banner, LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages. 

- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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