Friday, May 24, 2024

You may be eligible for additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

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(BPT) - As COVID-19 continues to circulate in our communities, it has become apparent that the virus is here to stay, and that getting infected is possible year-round.

Staying up to date with your annual COVID-19 vaccination remains one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19. It's a proactive step that can significantly reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death.1 Additionally, if you're 65 years of age and older, or someone who is immunocompromised, an additional shot may provide continued benefits.

Data has shown vaccine protection against COVID-19 wanes over time. To account for this, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for those with a higher risk of developing severe and long-term symptoms of COVID-19, even if they've already received an initial dose of the updated 2023-2024 vaccine in the fall.2

Here are the top three reasons to speak to your doctor or pharmacist about receiving an additional dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine this spring.

1. Make no mistake, COVID-19 remains a year-round public health threat

At the start of 2024, the CDC’s National Wastewater Surveillance System reported 35 states were experiencing “very high” COVID-19 viral activity, including Texas, New York, California, Illinois and Georgia.3 In addition to the case surge, we also saw a new dominant variant, JN.1, which now accounts for approximately 62% of all currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.4

Unlike the flu, COVID-19 spikes can occur at any point throughout the year. During the summer of 2023, COVID-19 hospitalization rates rose by 21.6% across the country.5 Summer heat waves can lead many to spend extended time indoors, which enables the virus to spread among people gathered together in close quarters.

As the year progresses and the COVID-19 virus evolves, it’s important that we stay up to date with the latest facts about COVID-19.

2. Vaccine protection needs to be refreshed

The virus that causes COVID-19 is always changing, and COVID-19 vaccination or protection from infection wanes over time. Receiving an updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine can restore and provide enhanced protection against the variants currently responsible for most infections and hospitalizations in the United States.6

For adults aged 65 years and older, and those living with a compromised immune system, it may be helpful to receive a second dose of the vaccine at least two months after their previous dose or three months after recovering from a COVID-19 infection.7

"Data continues to show the importance of vaccination to protect those most at risk for severe outcomes of COVID-19," said Dr. Jacqueline Miller, Senior Vice President, Therapeutic Area Head, Infectious Diseases, at Moderna. "An additional dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine may restore protection that has waned since a fall vaccine dose for those who are at an increased risk of complications from a COVID-19 infection."

3. Chronic conditions like hypertension can increase the risk of severe symptoms, and may lead to Long Covid

Long Covid is more common than many people realize. One in five adults have reported experiencing a continuation of COVID symptoms, including the development of fatigue and shortness of breath.8 According to research by the CDC,9 some other common symptoms include brain fog, difficulty concentrating, memory issues, sleep disturbances, anxiety and depression.

Those who are older or living with a compromised immune system are at a greater risk of developing Long Covid or severe symptoms from COVID-19 infection.10 Specifically, high blood pressure is the most common condition associated with hospitalization from COVID-19.

Older people and those who have conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes are more than twice as likely to develop Long Covid, according to Dr. Philip Levy, Professor of Emergency Medicine at Wayne State University. "It's critically important to get vaccinated and to get updated vaccines so you stay protected," he said.

Vaccines are the first line of defense against COVID-19. Consult with your doctor and get an additional vaccine today. Visit Vaccines.gov to find a location near you.

References

1. Centers for Disease Control. “How to Protect Yourself and Others.” Updated July 6, 2023. Accessed March 11, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html#vaccines

2. Centers for Disease Control. “Older Adults Now Able to Receive Additional Dose of Updated COVID-19 Vaccine.” Updated February 28, 2024. Accessed March 11, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2024/s-0228-covid.html

3. Centers for Disease Control. “COVID-19 Current Wastewater Viral Activity Levels Map.” Updated December 7, 2023. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/nwss/rv/COVID19-currentlevels.html

4. Centers for Disease Control. “COVID-19 Activity Increases as Prevalence of JN.1 Variant Continues to Rise.” Updated January 5, 2024. Accessed March 11, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/ncird/whats-new/JN.1-update-2024-01-05.html#

5. American Medical Association. “Questions patients may have about this “hot COVID summer.” Accessed March 11, 2024. https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/questions-patients-may-have-about-hot-covid-summer

6. Centers for Disease Control. “COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness.” Updated February 1, 2024. Accessed March 11, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/ncird/whats-new/covid-19-vaccine-effectiveness.html

7. Centers for Disease Control. “COVID-19 Vaccines for People Who Are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised.” Updated March 8, 2024. Accessed March 11, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html

8. Centers for Disease Control. “Nearly One in Five American Adults Who Have Had COVID-19 Still Have “Long COVID.” Updated June 22, 2022. Accessed March 11, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/nchs_press_releases/2022/20220622.htm

9. Ford ND, et al. Long COVID and Significant Activity Limitation Among Adults, by Age — United States, June 1–13, 2022, to June 7–19, 2023. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2023;72:866–870.

10. National Institutes of Health. “Long COVID.” Accessed 11, 2024. https://covid19.nih.gov/covid-19-topics/long-covid