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CDC Study Says Booster Shots Are Needed Against Omicron

CDC Study Says Booster Shots Are Needed Against Omicron

Three studies released Friday offered more evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are standing up to the Omicron variant, at least among people who received booster shots. Three shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were about 67% effective against omicron-related symptomatic disease compared with unvaccinated people. Two doses, however, offered no significant protection against Omicron when measured several months after completion of the original series, the researchers found.

The studies echo previous research, including studies in Germany, South Africa, and the U.K., indicating available vaccines are less effective against omicron than earlier versions of the coronavirus, but also that boosters doses rev up virus-fighting antibodies to increase the chance of avoiding symptomatic infection. They are the first large U.S. studies to look at vaccine protection against Omicron, health officials said.

A person receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus disease COVID-19 at a vaccination centre in Santiago, on 10 January 2022. – Chile started administering today a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to people over the age of 12 with weakened immune systems. (Photo by Javier TORRES / AFP) (Photo by JAVIER TORRES/AFP via Getty Images)

The first study looked at hospitalizations and emergency room and urgent care center visits in 10 states, from August to this month. It found vaccine effectiveness was best after three doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in preventing COVID-19-associated emergency department and urgent care visits. Protection dropped from 94% during the Delta wave to 82% during the Omicron wave. Protection from just two doses was lower, especially if six months had passed since the second dose.

Officials have stressed the goal of vaccination is preventing not just infection but severe disease. The study showed good news: a third dose was at least 90% effective at preventing hospitalizations for COVID-19, both during the Delta and Omicron periods, the study also found.

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Americans should get boosters if at least five months have passed since they completed their Pfizer or Moderna series, but millions who are eligible still have not gotten them.


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