As everyone knows, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a public health — and societal — crisis of epic proportions. The impact has been especially severe on older adults, who are more likely to be severely affected by COVID, and who represent a distressingly high proportion of the U.S.’s COVID deaths.
But, in an amazing feat of scientific achievement, COVID vaccines were developed in truly record time, and in 2021, a large-scale vaccination campaign has been rolled out in the U.S.
This doesn’t mean everything will be back to normal very soon. But vaccination is key to reducing the dangers of COVID, because to date, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have proven to be extremely effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID. They have also been shown to be safe.
Although it’s exciting that we benefit from the significant protection of COVID vaccines, these vaccines have also raised a lot of questions for people. This article summarizes what I think is most important for older adults and families to know about coronavirus vaccination.
In particular, I want to offer science-based information to help with common questions, such as “Which COVID vaccine is better for seniors?” or “Which COVID vaccine for a 90-year-old?”
I’ll also cover vaccine safety, and what we know so far about how effective these COVID vaccines are in older adults. And in Sept 2021, I am adding information related to the Delta variant and boosters.
Oct 8, 2021: Update on COVID boosters
- On 9/22/21, the FDA authorized a single booster dose for Pfizer COVID vaccine recipients who are age 65 or older, plus for a few other select groups.
- As of 10/8/21, boosters are not yet approved for people who were vaccinated against COVID with Moderna or J&J.
- The FDA will meet to consider boosters for these vaccines on October 14 and 15.
- For information on who can currently get a COVID vaccine booster, see CDC: Who Is Eligible for a COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot?
Note: A COVID vaccine booster is not technically the same as getting a “third dose,” which was approved by the FDA on 8/21/21 for certain people who are immunocompromised and unlikely to mount sufficient response to the usual COVID vaccine schedule. For more on who qualifies for this type of extra dose, see CDC: COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People.
Here is my most recent video update, from Sept 9, 2021: