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Boosted nursing home residents 10 times less likely to get COVID-19: CDC

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Nursing home residents who received their initial vaccination and a booster dose are 10 times less likely to contract COVID-19 than vaccinated residents who didn’t get their booster, according to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. 

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky presented the data on Wednesday showing case rates rising over the past two months among long-term care facility residents who are unvaccinated or only received their primary vaccine dosage.

The rate among boosted residents, in the meantime, has remained “stable and low,” indicating improved protection against the virus. 

Walensky cited the data, slated to be officially released Thursday, when calling on nursing home residents and staff to get their booster doses.

“Taken together these data emphasize the critical importance of boosters to optimize the protection of vaccines over time, and that when boosters are used that protection works,” she said.

Unvaccinated residents have the highest weekly rate of infections “as expected,” Walensky said, reaching 8.8 cases per 1,000 residents as of Dec. 5. 

But the case rate is also rising among those who only received the primary dosage, which the CDC director said is “likely due” to waning vaccine immunity over time. 

Boosters became available to many fully vaccinated seniors and other vulnerable populations in recent months as health officials sought to provide more protection due to any potential waning immunity. As of Wednesday, 60 percent of eligible seniors have received their booster shot.

Last month, the CDC extended eligibility to the boosters to all adults six months after their mRNA vaccination or two months after their Johnson & Johnson vaccination. The emergence of the omicron variant prompted the CDC to officially recommend the boosters to all adults. 

Still, Walensky said the CDC continues to define a fully vaccinated patient as someone who received two mRNA doses or one Johnson & Johnson shot two weeks prior. 

“We are continuing to follow that science, and it is literally evolving daily,” she said. “And as that science evolves, we will continue to review the data and update our recommendations as necessary.”

Tags booster booster doses CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus COVID-19 COVID-19 vaccine elderly fully vaccinated nursing homes Pandemic Rochelle Walensky unvaccinated

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