What we know about COVID-19 appears to change on a daily basis. Given the pandemic’s massive scope, it’s understandable. Since tracking began, more than 233 million cases have been confirmed worldwide.
Even now, as we approach two years of living with the pandemic, the virus and methods for dealing with it are still relatively new to the medical world, so researchers are learning as they go.
The amount of information available about the coronavirus is mind-boggling. It’s difficult to keep track of what’s known, what’s a myth, and what advice we should take. As a result, SurgeZirc Nigeria has compiled a list of the five most important new things we learned about COVID-19 in September.
1. First is who is eligible for boosters
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration both issued official booster guidelines in September, following some pretty public and confusing back and forth. They were significantly reduced from what the Biden administration announced in August when it suggested that starting the new season, all Americans would be eligible for boosters.
Instead, here’s who is currently eligible for a third, booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine. (Federal regulators have not yet weighed in on a third Moderna dose or a second Johnson & Johnson dose):
- If you’re 65 or older, or you live in a long-term care setting, and you received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, you should receive a Pfizer booster.
- If you’re 50-64 with an underlying medical condition, you should receive a Pfizer booster.
- If you’re 18-49 with an underlying condition, you may receive a Pfizer booster.
- And if you’re 18-64 working a job that puts you at increased risk of exposure and transmission, you may receive a Pfizer booster.
Despite the confusion in the run-up to the announcement, it appears that there was a demand for a booster dose. According to the Biden administration, roughly 400,000 booster doses were administered in the first weekend after the new guidelines were released, and more than 1 million people have scheduled their third dose.
2. Younger kids need the Pfizer vaccine
In other vaccine-related news, Pfizer released data in September indicating that two low doses of its vaccine are safe and highly effective in children aged 5 to 11.
Pfizer has since submitted its data to the FDA and is expected to officially request authorization in the coming weeks — though it is unclear how long the agency will take to review the data.
Nonetheless, some experts believe that younger children will begin to roll up their sleeves before Halloween.
3. Vaccines have more hidden health benefits
The primary health benefit of COVID-19 vaccines is that they are very effective at preventing people from becoming seriously ill or dying from the virus.
A new study published in September revealed an additional health benefit: people who get vaccinated may have better mental health.
People were less likely to show signs of moderate to severe depression after just one jab, and even those who hadn’t been vaccinated yet but planned to get the jab saw an improvement in their overall mental well-being.
Experts and the general public have come to realize in recent years that mental health is just as important to overall well-being as physical health, and the pandemic has certainly put people under a lot of stress. As a result, experts believe that the mental health benefit of vaccination should not be overlooked.
4. Being vaccinated after a COVID infection makes your level of immunity stronger
A study published in September looked into an incident in which the delta variant infected three-quarters of the people incarcerated there, despite the fact that the majority of them had been fully vaccinated with Pfizer shots.
However, while the study clearly demonstrated that breakthrough cases can occur, especially in high-risk settings where people spend a lot of time indoors together, it also provided some encouraging news.
Only one vaccinated person who contracted COVID-19 was hospitalized, demonstrating once again that vaccines largely prevent severe illness.
Those who had been fully vaccinated and had previously been infected with COVID-19 had the lowest rate of severe illness. That’s why organizations like the CDC have long advised people to get vaccinated, even if they’ve already had COVID-19.