Boost now or wait? How to ride COVID’s next wave

Gwyneth Paige didn’t want to get vaccinated against covid-19 at first. With her health issues — hypertension, fibromyalgia, asthma — she wanted to see how other people fared after the shots. Then her mother got colon cancer.

“At that point, I didn’t care if the vaccine killed me,” she said. “To be with my mother throughout her journey, I had to have the vaccination.”

Paige, who is 56 and lives in Detroit, has received three doses. That leaves her one booster short of federal health recommendations.

Like Paige, who said she doesn’t currently plan to get another booster, some Americans seem comfortable with the protection of three shots. But others may wonder what to do: Boost again now with one of the original vaccines, or wait months for promised new formulations tailored to the latest, highly contagious omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5?

The rapidly mutating virus has created a conundrum for the public and a communications challenge for health officials.

“What we’re seeing now is a little bit of an information void that is not helping people make the right decision,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, a professor of infectious diseases at the Emory University School of Medicine.

About 70% of Americans age 50 and older who got a first booster shot — and nearly as many of those 65 and older — haven’t received their second covid booster dose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency currently recommends two booster shots after a primary vaccine series for adults 50 and older and for younger people with compromised immune systems. Last week, multiple news outlets reported that the Biden administration was working on a plan to allow all adults to get second covid boosters.

Officials are worried about the surge of BA.4 and BA.5, which spread easily and can escape immune protection from vaccination or prior infection. A recent study published in Nature found BA.5 was four times as resistant to the currently available mRNA vaccines as earlier omicron subvariants.

Read the full analysis from Kaiser Health News, part of a nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

A new vaccine is on the way. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week gave its blessing for the emergency use of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine, the fourth coronavirus shot to be approved in the United States.

More kids than grandparents are getting infected, according to new research. The researchers found that in 16 of 19 states, the incidence rate ratio (IRR) of COVID-19 infection in adolescents and youth was significantly greater than in older adults.

And if a positive COVID test has forced you to postpone elective surgery, here’s some good news.

Once recovered from the virus, fully vaccinated patients have no greater odds for post-surgery complications than patients who were never infected, according to a new study.

See for yourself how and where vaccinations are ramping up, plus how COVID-19 deaths are trending in your state and across the nation.

Note: With the decline in public testing sites and rise in unreported home tests, infection rates are widely believed to be undercounted.