Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 booster shots are 90 percent effective at preventing Americans from falling seriously ill and ending up in the hospital due to the Omicron variant, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed on Friday.
The additional doses were also 82 percent effective at avoiding emergency department and urgent care visits related to the highly transmissible variant, according to the data.
Protection from just two doses was lower — 57 percent for hospitalizations and 38 percent for ED or urgent care visits — especially if six months had passed since the second dose, the data showed.
The study, published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, analyzed data from hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and visits between August 2021 and January 2022.
It was among three studies published by CDC researchers on Friday that offered evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are standing up against Omicron.
The research, which is the first large US studies that look at vaccine protection against Omicron, underlines the importance of Americans being up-to-date with their shots, according to CDC director Rochelle Walensky.
“Those who remain unvaccinated are at significantly higher risk for infection and severe COVID-19 disease,” Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 press briefing Friday.
“Protection against infection and hospitalization with the Omicron variant is highest for those who are up to date with their vaccinations — meaning those who are boosted when they are eligible.”
Overall, the studies backed up prior research out of South Africa and the UK that found the vaccines were less effective against Omicron than previous COVID variants — but that boosters significantly bolstered protection.
For emergency department or urgent care visits, protection was at 94 percent during the Delta wave — compared to 82 percent during Omicron.
The second study, also published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, focused on COVID case and death rates in 25 states from April last year to Christmas.
Those who had received a booster shot had the highest protection against COVID as Omicron was emerging but had yet to overtake the Delta as the dominant strain.
“During December when Omicron was first emerging, unvaccinated adults had a five-time risk of infection when compared to adults who had received a booster dose,” Walensky said
“You can see significantly lower case and death rates among those who are boosted compared to those who are unvaccinated.”
The third study, led by CDC researchers but published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at people who tested positive between Dec. 10 and Jan. 1 at more than 4,600 testing sites across the country.
It found that a booster shot was about 67 percent effective against Omicron compared to those who were unvaccinated.
Two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offered no significant protection against Omicron, the study found.
“It really shows the important of getting a booster dose,” said one of the study’s authors, Emma Accorsi.
As of Friday, 63 percent of the US population was fully vaccinated against COVID — but only 39 percent of them had received a booster shot, the latest CDC data shows.
With Post wires