CDC finds COVID-19 boosters are best defense against omicron

Jan 21, 2022, 5:01 PM | Updated: 8:18 pm

MURRAY, Utah — COVID-19 vaccine boosters provide the best defense against omicron. That’s the top finding from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study on COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness that included patients and researchers in Utah.

The study provides the first look at how well the mRNA vaccines work against the omicron variant.

This data on vaccine effectiveness was gathered from more than 200 hospitals across 10 states, including the Intermountain Healthcare network. This news should bump up the number of people getting boosted this weekend, as new COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Utah.

“We are in the midst of our omicron surge cases have never been higher,” Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious diseases physician with Intermountain Healthcare, said.

He hopes these findings will encourage those who are fully vaccinated to go get their booster, and those who are not vaccinated to get started on the three shot series.

“If you go out and get boosted, you’ll have very significant protection as we go through this omicron surge,” Stenehjem said.

The CDC study shows boosters are 90% effective at keeping people out of the hospital, while the two shot series is only 57% effective at preventing hospitalization.

“If you want to be fully up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccination, you need to get a booster dose five months after your second shot,” the doctor said.

Nearly 60% of all Utahns have received two doses of the vaccine. But, fewer than 25% have received a booster, and fewer than 40% (39.3%) of those who are fully vaccinated have received their booster. While, 70% of Utahns over 65 are boosted.

“These are Utah patients,” Stenehjem said. “These are data that is coming from our communities that we can reflect back to our public to educate them to understand that this isn’t just a national study.”

The doctor says the omicron variant makes up more than 90% of Utah’s COVID infections, right now. The delta variant has virtually disappeared.

“It’s actually incredibly timely data, because if you go out and you get your booster shot, that booster shot will give you immediate benefit within five to seven days,” he said.

The infectious diseases physician also pointed out that getting boosted is another way to reduce the load on Utah caregivers inside the hospitals who are dealing with a record number of patients.

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CDC finds COVID-19 boosters are best defense against omicron