Vol. III No. 8 4/15/2022
Protecting Against COVID-19
by Charles Kenny, MD
One of my neighbors called me quite upset about a N.Y. Times article of APRIL 6. She was not primarily concerned about whether or not she should get a second booster. She was concerned that the article was self-contradictory and would create confusion in the general public, dissuading some from getting vaccinated. She understood that keeping control of the pandemic relies on maximum numbers of people remaining fully protected through vaccinations.
The article in question was indeed ambiguous. It seemed to assert that older people would be more likely to have serious disease as a result of a vaccination, when exactly the opposite is the case.
ON APRIL 7, the Times reviewed a New England Journal of Medicine report from Israel about second boosters and severe Covid infection, compared with only one booster. The Times said prevention against disease waned 4 weeks after the second booster. The Times failed to understand the significance of the difference between prevention and protection.
Vaccinations and boosters are NOT expected to prevent disease. The primary purpose of vaccination is to protect against disease. The Israeli study shows the second booster protected significantly against severe disease compared with only one booster. At six weeks, the second booster was almost 4.5 times more protective. Yes, almost the same number of people with two boosters were diagnosed with COVID-19 as those with one booster, but the disease was mild, or asymptomatic, that is, only detectable with tests.
In other words, the second booster will not prevent you from getting the sniffles from a COVID-19 infection, but it will protect you from getting really sick, or from having to go to the hospital, or from dying.
The Israeli report also showed that side effects of the vaccination are minimal.
Keeping serious disease at a minimum in our society through regular vaccinations is the one weapon we have to prevent the future emergence of variants.
My wife and I are over 60, therefore, we will get the second booster.
Photo: Jay Rhind