© 2023 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A New York study shows vaccine booster shots are needed in the months to come

Covid-19 Vaccine

The first American to get the COVID-19 vaccine got a booster shot last week. A new study in New York suggests more people will get booster shots this fall.

Sandra Lindsay, director of nursing for critical care at Northwell Health's Long Island Jewish Medical Center, became the first person in the U.S. to take a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine last December, and received her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine weeks later. Ten months later, Lindsay got the booster shot to bolster her resistance to the virus.

COVID-19 vaccines lost some of their effectiveness when the Delta variant became the most dominant strain in the U.S., according to one of the nation’s largest vaccine study released Monday in New York.

“The findings of our study support the need for boosters in older people in particular, and we encourage them to seek out a booster shot from their health care provider, pharmacy or mass vaccination site,” Dr. Eli Rosenberg, lead study author of the state Department of Health, said in a statement.

The state study analyzed nearly 9 million New Yorkers ages 18 and older. It looked at how the Delta variant, aided by the reduced use of masks, weakened the strength of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnston & Johnston vaccines.

The study shows declines in vaccine effectiveness against lab-confirmed COVID infections were greatest for Pfizer recipients (24.6% less for those aged 18-49, 19.1% less for those 50-64 and 14.1% less for over 65) compared with Moderna (18% less vaccine effectiveness for 18-49, 11.6% less for 50-64 and 9% less for over 65) and Johnson & Johnson recipients (19.2% less for 18-49, 10.8% less for 50-64 and 10.9% less for over 65).

State health officials said the study makes the case for targeted booster shots this fall, especially for people over 65 and those who are immunocompromised.

“We saw limited evidence of decline in effectiveness against severe disease for people ages 18 to 64 years old. While we did observe early declines in effectiveness against infections for this age group, this appears to have leveled off when the Delta variant became the predominant strain in New York,” Rosenberg said. “Together, this suggests that ongoing waning protection may be less of a current concern for adults younger than 65 years.”

Pfizer vaccine recipients are the only people eligible for a third dose. Recipients of the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines will have to wait for now. The I.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the booster shot for people over the age of 65, those with underlying health conditions and adult residents of long-term care facilities.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.