UW Health experts push vaccine boosters amid rising breakthrough COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - As healthcare providers and vaccinated people report more breakthrough cases in COVID-19 due to the rapidly-spread omicron variant, healthcare professionals are recommending that those with their first round(s) of the vaccine get a booster dose, UW Health experts said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus is spread faster than the previous delta variant and is very contagious.
An uptick in breakthrough cases, or cases associated with people who are vaccinated and those who are vaccinated with their booster shots, are also being reported alongside the new variant. However the CDC has found that fully vaccinated individuals are less likely to experience severe symptoms of the virus in breakthrough cases than those who aren’t vaccinated.
This data and the surge of cases from omicron demonstrates the importance of receiving vaccinations and boosters to prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and death, according to to Dr. Dan Shirley, interim medical director of infection control, UW Health, and associate professor of medicine (infectious disease) at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
“Data also suggest that receiving a booster dose increases the vaccine effectiveness against omicron to similar levels that were previously seen against delta,” he said. “This includes increasing the protection dramatically for those who had previous infection” said Dr. Shirley.
The CDC has stated that data from South Africa and the United Kingdom demonstrate that the vaccine is approximately 35% effective against infection with only two doses of an mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna. A booster restores the vaccine effectiveness against infection to 75%.
Scientists are still learning about the transmissibility and severity of omicron. The most recent data from the Department of Health services in Wisconsin predates omicron, but experts are predicting that the variant may increase outcome disparities between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations in COVID-19 infections.
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