The latest COVID-19 vaccine offers adults 54% more protection against infection with the virus, according to a new study released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
He datapublished in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, shows that the vaccine approved in September provides protection against both the strain of the virus for which it was originally created and the newer COVID lineages and mutations currently circulating throughout the world. country.
Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an infectious disease specialist at Northwell Health, said the CDC’s findings are encouraging and should prompt more New Yorkers to get the latest booster shot. To date, less than 10% of Long Islanders have received the vaccine, data shows.
But Hirsch acknowledges that the study has limitations, including a lack of data on the effectiveness of the booster in preventing severe COVID illness, including hospitalization and death.
“The fact that it shows efficacy… is very reassuring and leads us to believe that it is very likely to be effective in preventing the worst consequences of COVID,” he said.
The nationwide study looked at more than 9,200 people with COVID-like symptoms who were tested for the virus at CVS pharmacies or Walgreens stores between Sept. 21 and Jan. 14. Nearly 3,300 of those patients tested positive for the virus, the researchers found.
Among those who received their booster between seven and 59 days earlier, the vaccine was 58% effective in preventing symptomatic infections, the data shows. Meanwhile, the booster was 49 percent effective among those who received the vaccine between 60 and 119 days earlier, the report found.
“Declining efficacy is expected with increasing time since vaccination, especially against less severe diseases,” the report states. “CDC will continue to monitor trends in [vaccine effectiveness].”
While most previous studies have measured the vaccine’s effectiveness against hospitalization and severe illness (the CDC said future reports will examine these results), the latest findings are in line, or better, with previous research showing its efficacy rate against COVID infection.
The booster’s effectiveness also exceeds the flu vaccine’s roughly 50% annual effectiveness rate, health officials said.
This is the third updated shot authorized by the FDA, following the original vaccine series.
The FDA approved the latest vaccine for anyone 6 months and older on Sept. 12, but the percentage of Americans who have received the latest vaccine is lagging.
Meanwhile, Long Island is in the bottom 20% of the state’s 62 counties in terms of receiving the booster.
In Nassau County, 9.3% of residents have received the booster shot compared to 8.6% in Suffolk County, Health Department data shows.
Dr. Andrew Handel, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, said a combination of factors has caused those numbers to decline.
“People are less enthusiastic about the vaccine in general,” said Handel, who argues that the focus should be on vaccinating the highest-risk people, particularly as immunity wanes with earlier doses. “And the current strain of the virus is less likely to cause serious illness over time.”
The COVID positivity rate, both statewide and on Long Island, has dripped down in recent weeks after hitting its season peak in early January, Department of Health data shows.