experts insist on third injections for vaccine risk groups – .

experts insist on third injections for vaccine risk groups – .

TORONTO – The recent death of Colin Powell, the first black secretary of state of the United States, due to complications from COVID-19 is a small warning, experts say, reinforcing that the elderly or suffering from health complications are always more at risk than other vaccinated populations.

Powell, who was fully vaccinated but reportedly immunocompromised, died on Monday of complications resulting from a groundbreaking case of COVID-19. Powell was 84 years old and part of what some experts call the “vaccinated vulnerable.”

There is ample evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective in reducing infections and preventing hospitalizations and death in breakthrough cases.

Tania Watts, an immunologist at the University of Toronto, pointed out that in Ontario alone, according to the Ontario Science Table Dashboard, people vaccinated are 85% less likely to contract COVID-19 and 97% less likely to end up in the hospital. intensive care unit if they did.

“These are extraordinarily good vaccines,” Watts told CTV News. “However, they’re not 100 percent perfect. “

Experts stress that widespread vaccination is needed to protect the few vulnerable people who receive less protection from vaccines.

“The older we get, the less efficient our immune system is and this is particularly aggravated [in those] over 60 years, ”she added. “But even more in the much older group, the over 80s, and also frail people, such as in long-term care. “

Although dual vaccinations have significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization and death for the general population, they are less effective in some populations.

“In Colin Powell’s case, he had been treated for multiple myeloma, so like other cancer patients, the treatments can often suppress your immune system, so it would have been particularly vulnerable,” Watts said.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the blood that damages the body’s ability to fight infections and makes it difficult for the body to respond to vaccines. Powell had received treatment for multiple myeloma in recent years.

Researchers believe that about three percent of the population is immunocompromised, which means that about one million Canadians may not be fully protected by just two doses.

And they, along with older Canadians vaccinated earlier in the year, may now show signs of declining immunity.

“What I’m seeing now is the vulnerable people we vaccinated first are becoming vulnerable again,” Rodney Russell, professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Memorial University of Newfoundland, told CTV News.

“We have been focusing on vaccinating people for a long time. But in countries like Israel where we have seen very early and aggressive vaccination programs, in January, February, as the sixth, eighth month arrives, we have seen that you start to contract these revolutionary infections. [even with] double vaccines. And that’s because the antibody levels are dropping, which is normal. We know that with all vaccinations and with infections.

That doesn’t mean vaccines don’t work, and the term “waning immunity,” while scary, doesn’t mean protection wears off completely after a certain point, either.

“It’s not that you don’t have immunity,” Watts said.

This means that for risk groups who may already have been less responsive to the vaccine already, they and those around them need to be more careful, as their risk of contracting the virus may be higher over the months. keep on going.

This is also one of the reasons why the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended the third dose for people in long-term care as well as for immunocompromised populations, but not for the general population.

” Sir. Powell, and people in his age group, and generally anyone over 65 here, my concern because if they are six months after a second dose now, they may have a decrease in the amount of antibodies in their blood, ”Russell said. “And now they may be more susceptible to infection and then may not be able to cope with the virus as well as a younger person. “

Watts stressed that we need to monitor the decline in immunity to see if this is happening in the general population and how it will affect long-term plans, such as the possibility of Canadians needing booster doses once in a while. year, like a flu shot.

But for now, the evidence only points to a growing risk for those already at risk.

“In special populations like long-term care that are older and particularly fragile, there is already emerging evidence of poorer immunity and evidence to start strengthening it and also evidence to ensure that people who surround them [are] fully vaccinated, ”Watts said.

Russell pointed out that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that of the more than 7,000 people who have died from a groundbreaking COVID-19 case, 85% were over 65.

“Typically, most of the breakthrough cases that result in death are people over 65,” he said, adding that the risk is higher if they have other risk factors or were immunocompromised.

Scientists fear these groups may realize they are now at higher risk.

“They think they’re okay because they had their shots, but if they had their two shots six or eight months ago, or the second ones three months ago, they might not be. as protected as they think it is, ”said Russell. “These are the ones that really worry me. “

He added that those at greater risk due to age or underlying health issues who received their two injections around six to eight months ago should be more careful this coming holiday season, by especially during large family gatherings or in shopping centers where it can get crowded. who are not vaccinated.

The answer, public health experts say, is a third injection – and some 280,000 at-risk Canadians have already received one, with vaccination campaigns to give booster shots to vulnerable people already underway in parts of Canada. .

The other key element, according to Watts, is making sure those around vulnerable people are vaccinated.

“The more we are vaccinated, the less the virus circulates and the better,” she said.

“If you have a really good immune response you will get rid of this virus quickly even if you got a breakthrough infection, but really, especially to protect vulnerable people, the more vaccinated we get, the better. “

She said that although the high proportion of immunizations in Canada makes us more protected and less likely to overwhelm the health care system, “if we leave the remaining 20 percent or more [are] the unvaccinated are infected, it can still be a real disaster, so we should not lose our vigilance just yet. “

Still, doctors say Colin Powell’s case shouldn’t be used as an example of vaccine failure, but rather as a reminder that even with vaccination, the sick and aging human body has its limits.


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