2 reasons why vaccinated seniors are still at risk for severe COVID-19

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Why Older AdultsAre More Vulnerableto COVID-19.

A new report shows that even though older adults may be fully vaccinated, they’re still at a higher risk for severe COVID-19.

“Adults 65 years old and older who were fully vaccinated with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) had a 94% reduction in risk of COVID-19 hospitalizations and vaccination was 64% effective among those who were partially vaccinated (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna),” the Centers for Disease Control said.

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But age still plays a role.

“The huge risk factor is age,” William Petri, an immunologist at the University of Virginia, told National Geographic. “If you’re under 45, your chances of dying are almost nonexistent, and then it increases exponentially.”

Here are two reasons why vaccinated older adults have a greater risk of severe COVID-19, the publication reported.

Older immune systems

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases notes the risk of infection is greater “because our immune systems grow weaker as we age, which makes it more challenging for older adults to fight off infectious diseases. Chronic diseases are also more common with age, and can compromise the immune system, making older adults more vulnerable to serious complications.”

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Breakthrough infections

A study published last month in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases reviewed a small group of fully vaccinated and seriously ill patients. They were hospitalized with COVID-19 at the Yale-New Haven Health System between March and July. Their average age was 80.5 years. There is another paper that AARP reported has yet to be peer-reviewed, but displayed a similar trend.

The CDC has recommended boosters for people 65 and older and residents of long-term care settings. It also recommended boosters for people ages 50–64 who have underlying medical conditions. Boosters should be given at least six months after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech primary series. Boosters for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have also been cleared. Moderna boosters follow the same pattern as Pfizer, while the Johnson & Johnson booster is recommended for people 18 and older who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

“These recommendations are another example of our fundamental commitment to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said. “The evidence shows that all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are safe – as demonstrated by the over 400 million vaccine doses already given. And, they are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating Delta variant.”

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