As the US decides its future regarding COVID-19 vaccination plans, vaccine experts say that young and healthier people don’t need another booster, according to a report by CNN.
According to data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bivalent booster, which has been available since September, has been moderately low.
They also said that hospitals haven’t been filled up or “overwhelmed” by people under the age of 65.
“Nationally, only about 16% of the population has gotten it, and the rates are especially low for people under 65,” said the report.
Doctors at the Clalit Health Services, Israel’s largest healthcare organization, have claimed that the relative mildness of current COVID-19 strains are “going a long way” toward protecting healthy young people, even if they don’t get the booster.
Dr. Ran Balicer, director of the Clalit Research Institute and chairman of Israel’s COVID-19 National Expert Advisory Panel, told CNN in an interview, that when the virulent Delta variant was raging, it was “not responsible” to opt out of the vaccine during the pandemic.
Balicer said he has since seen a change in the health progress of young adults.
“I don’t think that’s the case anymore,” he said. “I think when you’re under 65 and healthy, it’s a much more complex question, and I think that’s where individual risk assessment and personal preferences come into play.”
According to the CDC, since the new booster became available, about 12% of all COVID-19 deaths in the US have been among people younger than 65.
Despite the decrease in deaths, a report released by the CDC on Thursday revealed the death rates and vaccination status from September through December.
It showed that people who were vaccinated with the original vaccine or added booster were better protected than those who were unvaccinated.
Dr. Ruth Link-Gelles, a CDC senior epidemiologist, encourages adults to get the booster and says it’s a “no brainer.”
“We’re not surprised, and we’re grateful [and] happy to see that hospitals aren’t filling up” with people under age 65, said Dr. Ruth Link-Gelles, a CDC senior epidemiologist told CNN. “But we still see occasionally healthy younger adults end up in the hospital. And to me, it’s a no-brainer if I can take five minutes, pop into my local pharmacy and get a shot.”
“There are people under 65 that are still dying of COVID-19, (and) any death in an unvaccinated or under-vaccinated person is potentially preventable had that person gotten the booster,” she added.
Balicer told CNN that he didn’t take the latest booster because of the mildness in the strain at the time.
“Because I was vaccinated before, I know my risk of severe morbidity is very low” even without the booster, he told CNN in an interview. “And I know that the protection from infection that I will get from the additional booster will be short-term – a few months.”
CNN also interviewed Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, who claimed while the booster is helpful to many, the shot is much less effective at preventing transmission compared with the original vaccine during the early stages of the pandemic.
“Your chances of getting infected are altered very little with the [booster], so you can’t say with any scientific integrity that protecting others is why you should get it,” Osterholm said.
“My focus is on people who are 65 and older and those who are immune compromised. That’s who I think really should get” the booster,” he added.
In Florida, data shows that 16,121,624 people were vaccinated in the state with 2,215,790 receiving a first dose, and 7,764,575 completing the series. The number of people who received an additional or booster dose was 6,141,259.
The Biden Administration has announced that the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) and COVID-19 National Emergency (NE) will expire on May 11.