Coronavirus

Northwestern Medicine doctor weighs in on why those 50 and older should get a second booster

DeKALB - Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital’s infectious disease specialist Dr. Bob Manam is encouraging those 50 and older to seek a second COVID-19 booster shot amid the recent uptick in reported coronavirus cases and hospitalizations among older adults.

In May, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strengthened recommendations and expanded eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots, urging Americans aged 50 and older to seek a second shot to bolster immune response amid a mutating COVID-19 virus. According to the CDC, the center is strengthening its recommendation that those 12 and older who are immunocompromised and those 50 and older should receive a second booster dose at least four months after the first.

“The level of viral activity in the county and in the state is elevated,” Manam said. “A number of people are becoming Ill. We are seeing a few more actually coming to the hospital.”

A need for a second booster comes as hospitalizations among older people grow, even among those who have been vaccinated. According to the CDC, data shows those with a more recent booster stand the most chance of staunching serious cases of the virus, including older residents who are already at higher risk of complications.

In Illinois, hospitalizations steadily have climbed over the past few weeks as a subvariant of the omicron variant of COVID-19 takes hold. The subvariant is known as BA.2.12.1. As of late Wednesday, Illinois had 1,267 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, an overnight increase of six patients and the highest total since Feb. 21. Of those, 118 were in intensive care units, and 33 were on ventilators.

According to the CDC, data shows that as a coronavirus continues to mutate, the effectiveness of the vaccines and booster shots – which are safe to use and effective at keeping serious virus cases at bay – wanes over time. To combat that, additional booster doses are recommended, especially for those most vulnerable, including those with compromised immune systems.

As of Thursday, 31,093 boosters have been administered to DeKalb County residents.

According to the CDC, during the recent omicron surge over the 2021 holidays, “those who were boosted were 21 times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who were unvaccinated, and seven times less likely to be hospitalized.”

Vaccines and boosters continue to be recommended for all eligible as the best way to fight off major infection and complications.

Notably, the CDC also reports a recent steep increase in hospitalizations in those 50 and older.

A second booster would be helpful, Manam said, especially for those with underlying health issues, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other health problems.

“I would advise those who are at a much higher risk to get their second booster sooner rather than later,” Manam said. “You can see how the numbers are with [COVID-19] viral activity. It’s high.”