Yes, you really do need the Covid booster

The following editorial appeared in The Daily Sun on Jan 30, 2022.

OUR POSITION: As demand wanes for vaccines and booster shots to fight the pandemic we urge those who have failed to protect themselves to think again and get the booster shot to fight the omicron variant.

It’s hard to believe we still feel a need to pester people to get the vaccine. More specifically a booster shot, which the Centers for Disease Control insists will help you fight off the omicron variant, which is the dominant form of COVID infecting people nationwide right now.

We understand — and we’ve heard loud and clear from some people — there is skepticism about the vaccines. Some people feel if infected they can fight it off with cures other than the vaccine.

We’ll stick with proven cures. And right now there is nothing that protects your life and health more than the vaccines.

Some people are listening. Last month, according to the Orlando Sentinel, a record-breaking 308,217 people got the COVID-19 booster shot in one week. Demands for booster shots since then, however, have begun to dwindle.

Florida still lags behind other states for people protecting themselves with a booster shot. We are below the national average according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with only 35.6% of people in Florida getting a booster shot. That puts us 38th out of 50 states.

CDC data shows that booster shots are very effective keeping seniors out of the hospital if they get the omicron variant. Records show that people age 65 and over are 49 times more likely to require hospitalization if they get COVID compared to those who are fully vaccinated and have a booster.

Those appear to be pretty good odds in favor of those who get a booster.

The state is also lagging behind getting the booster shots to nursing home patients. AARP reports that only 31% of nursing home residents are boosted, as of last week. And, just as bad, only 13% of the health care staffs have been given a booster shot.

How can we expect to care for seniors in nursing homes if the people who administer care to them every day come and go without the protection of a booster shot?

Fully vaccinated people, with a booster, showed the lowest rate of COVID infections, according to the CDC. From October through November the rates of those vaccinated and boosted that were infected stood at only 25% while unvaccinated people were infected at an 87% rate.

Rates of COVID-19 cases were lowest among fully vaccinated persons with a booster dose, compared with fully vaccinated persons without a booster dose, and much lower than rates among unvaccinated persons. The same trend continued for those dying from COVID complications.

Florida on Wednesday reported 37,661 cases and two new deaths to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Miami Herald calculations of CDC data. In the past seven days, the state has added 78 deaths and 32,005 cases per day, on average, according to Herald calculations of CDC data. In all, Florida has recorded at least 5,420,755 confirmed COVID cases and 64,005 deaths.

If anyone thinks this virus has gone away, think again. We will continue to beat the drum for vaccinations. It’s the only thing we are confident will prevent people from serious complications and the only thing we are sure will protect the people we love.