Roundup: Immunocompromised Eligible for Additional Booster; COVID-19 Linked to Risk of Diabetes Diagnosis; and More

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January 14, 2022


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More People, Especially the Immunocompromised, are Eligible for Additional Vaccine Doses as Omicron Cases Surge

Eligibility for boosters expanded this month, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortening the time interval between the second and third shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines from six to five months for everyone 12 years of age and older.

Moreover, some people with weakened immune systems, or the “immunocompromised,” can qualify for a fourth shot this month. That’s because the CDC approved a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna (mRNA) vaccines for moderately or severely immunocompromised people on Aug. 13 — but it reclassified three shots as a “primary immunization” for this group. Since it’s been five months since this action by the CDC, some immunocompromised start qualifying for their fourth shots in mid-January.

Having a weakened immune system can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19, the CDC said. Many conditions and treatments for chronic diseases, including cancer, can cause a person to be immunocompromised. “Prolonged use of corticosteroids or other immune weakening medicines can lead to secondary or acquired immunodeficiency,” states the CDC.

Getting a booster has become vital during the current Omicron variant surge, which is causing infections and hospitalizations to soar. Data from clinical trials have found that a booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna primary series six months earlier, or who received a Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine two months earlier.

“If you did get vaccinated earlier on in the pandemic, and it’s been more than five months since your second vaccine dose, getting a booster raises the level of antibodies that are prepared to fight against the Omicron variant,” explains Samer Fahmy, M.D., chief medical officer at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, part of Baptist Health.

Here’s more from the CDC on COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised People.


Children Possibly at Risk of Developing Diabetes After COVID-19 Infection, New Study Finds

Previous studies have confirmed that persons with diabetes are at increased risk for severe COVID-19. Additionally, a COVID-19 infection may raise the risk of a new diagnosis of diabetes in children, says a new study from U.S. public health officials.

Those under the age of 18 are at a significantly increased risk of developing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are reporting.

Researchers based their findings on a review of two medical claims databases from U.S. health plans that focused on diabetes diagnoses in those under 18 throughout the course of a year or more, starting in March 1, 2020. They compared those who were infected with COVID with those who were not.

They found increases in diabetes diagnoses in both sets of data — a 2.6-fold increase in new diabetes cases among children in one, and a 30 percent increase in another. Despite the wide range, even the lowest figure of a 30 percent higher risk is significant, researchers say.

However, there is still much to learn as to why COVID-19 has such an effect on youngsters.

The CDC concludes: “The mechanism of how COVID-19 might lead to incident diabetes is likely complex and could differ by type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Monitoring for long-term consequences, including signs of new diabetes, following COVID-19 infection, is important in this age group.”

Vaccination against COVID-19 has been approved for everyone 5 years of age and older. Learn more from the CDC on COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens.


CDC Study: Those Vaccinated With Severe COVID-19 Were Older, With Underlying Health Conditions

A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed the cases of more than 1.2 million fully vaccinated adults, using data from 465 healthcare facilities in U.S. between December 2020 and October 2021.

The CDC’s findings: Vaccinated individuals ages 65 and older were 3.22 times more likely to contract severe illness from COVID-19 outcome than others. Those with a much higher risk of severe illness included people who are immunosuppressed and those with underlying health issues.

The good news: Of the more than 1.2 million vaccinated individuals in the study, only 2,256 developed COVID-19 — or 0.1 percent. Of those, 189 had a serious outcome – again, just .01 percent.

As listed by the CDC, the underlying medication conditions in those that did get infected were: overweight/obesity; diabetes; immunosuppression; chronic kidney disease; chronic neurologic disease; chronic cardiac disease; chronic pulmonary disease; chronic liver disease.

Among 1,228,664 persons who completed primary vaccination during December 2020–October 2021, a total of 2,246 (18 per 10,000 vaccinated persons) developed COVID-19 and 189 (1.5 per 10,000) had a severe outcome, including 36 who died (0.3 deaths per 10,000), according to the CDC.

“Risk for severe outcomes was higher among persons who were aged 65 years or older, were immunosuppressed, or had at least one of six other underlying conditions,” the CDC states.

All 189 patients with severe COVID-19 illness had at least one risk factor, such as being over 65 age or an underlying health condition, and 78 percent of those who died had four or more risk factors.

The CDC concluded: “Vaccinated persons who are older, immunosuppressed, or have other underlying conditions should receive targeted interventions including chronic disease management, precautions to reduce exposure, additional primary and booster vaccine doses, and effective pharmaceutical therapy to mitigate risk for severe outcomes.”

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