The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the results of three new studies which show that COVID booster shots provide protection against severe illness from the Omicron variant, which accounts for 99% of all cases in the United States. The studies analyzed millions of COVID-19 cases and hundreds of thousands of COVID-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
One of the studies found that getting a booster shot of the mRNA vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer reduced the risk of ending up in the emergency room by 82%. The study found that the two-dose series was just 38% effective at preventing the need for emergency care.
When looking at just hospitalizations, a booster dose was 90% effective, compared to 57% six months after receiving the second dose.
Another study published in the medical journal JAMA found that the boosters also provide protection against symptomatic infection, reducing the risk by 66%.
Health experts say the new studies, along with similar reports from other countries, highlight the benefits of getting a COVID booster shot.
“Data from other countries have also shown significant benefit of getting the booster, but this is really showing it in the U.S.,” Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University, told the New York Times. “These numbers should be very convincing.”
The FDA has authorized booster doses for everybody over the age of 12. According to the CDC, less than half of those eligible for a booster shot have received it.