COVID-19 Roundup: Vaccines Provide More Protection Than Natural Immunity from Infection; CDC Guidance on Vaccinating Kids 5-11; and More

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November 5, 2021


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Vaccination Confers More Protection Than Previous COVID-19 Infection, CDC Study Finds

A new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that being vaccinated against COVID-19 provides stronger protection — as much as five-fold — against the coronavirus, compared to having only natural antibodies from a past COVID infection.

Unvaccinated individuals who had recovered from a COVID-19 infection were five times as likely to get the virus as those who had received both shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, the CDC said. The study did not involve those vaccinated with the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“All eligible persons should be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible, including unvaccinated persons previously infected with COVID-19,” the CDC concluded.

This trend of being better protected from vaccination, compared to natural immunity, was evident in those older than 65 years of age, the CDC said. But the agency stipulated that the study had limitations. The researchers cautioned that the findings “might not be generalizable to non-hospitalized patients who have different access to medical care or different health care–seeking behaviors, particularly outside of the nine states covered” by the study. 

“In this study, the protective effect of vaccination also trended higher for adults aged ≥65 years than for those aged 18–64 years,” the CDC states. “However, considering the limited data by both product type and age, additional research is needed on the relative protection of vaccination versus infection without vaccination across demographic groups and vaccine products, as well as vaccination in previously infected persons.”

The study focused on more than 7,000 people hospitalized with COVID symptoms in 187 hospitals across nine states from January to September — a period that included both the more transmissible delta variant. Patients were part of the study if they had a previous case of COVID-19 in the past three to six months, or had been fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccines in the past three to six months.

“We now have additional evidence that reaffirms the importance of COVID-19 vaccines, even if you have had prior infection,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., in a statement. “This study adds more to the body of knowledge demonstrating the protection of vaccines against severe disease from COVID-19.


CDC Gives Final Approval for Vaccine for Kids 5-11, Offers Guidance for Parents

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children aged 5 through 11, a move that ensures supplies of the vaccine will be begin becoming available through the U.S. in coming days to an estimated 28 million kids in this age group.

The CDC’s approval follows that of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week.

“Children, ages 5 through 11 years, receive one-third of the adult dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine,” states the CDC in its guidance page for parents. “Smaller needles, designed specifically for children, are used for children ages 5 through 11 years. Your child will need a second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine three weeks after their first shot.”

Parents with questions or concerns should consult with their pediatrician. The major retail pharmacies, county-run sites and some pediatrician offices and children’s hospitals are expected to have shots available soon.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) “recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all children and adolescents 5 years of age and older who do not have contraindications using a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use for their age.”

The CDC and FDA agreed that the lower-dose Pfizer vaccine provides more benefits than risks. Although fewer children are infected with COVId-19 than adults, kids can spread the virus and some can get seriously sick.


CDC Adds Some Mental Health Conditions to Qualification List for COVID Vaccine Boosters

People with some mental health conditions, including schizophrenia and mood disorders such as depression, are now eligible for boosters of COVID-19 vaccines, according to updated guidance by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Having mood disorders, including depression, and schizophrenia spectrum disorders can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19,” the CDC stated, in an addition in October to its list of underlying health conditions that qualifies individuals for boosters.

One study, published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and referenced by the CDC, found the highest COVID-19 death rate among people with mental health conditions was in those with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. “Individuals with preexisting mood disorders are at higher risk of COVID-19 hospitalization and death and should be categorized as an at-risk group on the basis of a preexisting condition,” the study’s authors concluded.

Researchers reviewed 21 studies that involved more than 91 million individuals.

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