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KEEPING THE CONSUMER SAFE; LIVING WITH COVID Segment 5: To Boost or Not to Boost

Healthcare Consumer Navigator Center is a Healthcare Consumer Advocate Organization that helps consumer navigate the healthcare maze. The following Series “KEEPING THE CONSUMER SAFE; LIVING WITH COVID”.  Our goal is to provide a commonsense approach to living with covid with general healthcare information.

As previously documented in this space, I have had two doses of the Moderna vaccine. My second dose was in February 2021.

So the question I’ve now faced is whether or not to get a booster shot. I was infected with the COVID virus mid-September and had no symptoms (asymptomatic). I have spent hours on the internet searching for an answer to what I thought was a pretty simple, straight-forward question, “Should a 67-year old, vaccinated individual, recently recovered from COVID get a booster shot?”

Here’s what I’ve learned.

I’m now in a category called “breakthrough cases.” According to the CDC website, “COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Case Investigation and Reporting,” a vaccine breakthrough infection is defined as the detection of SARS-Cov-2 or antigen in a respiratory specimen collected from a person > 14 days after they have completed all recommended doses of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the website as of October 18, 2021, 41,127 patients with COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infection were hospitalized or died. Thankfully, I don’t fall into either of those categories. The breakdown was 10,857 deaths and 30,270 hospitalizations. I wonder how large the overall number might be? The website goes on to explain the data is incomplete and this is only a snapshot of the breakthrough cases. To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified.

In a single sentence, I seemingly found what I was looking for…”Currently, CDC is recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. I continued to search for a specific reference to someone having COVID and a specific recommendation for this condition because of all the “immunity” discussions that exist on the web. I didn’t find any.

As a last resort, I contacted a physician and she recommended getting the booster.

Frankly, this doesn’t feel all that scientific to me. The more I researched the more I learned there is a great deal of studying and data gathering ongoing that haven’t yet produced what one would consider “scientific” results.

According to the CDC, “more than 189 million people in the US have been fully vaccinated as of October 18, 2021.” The approximately 11 thousand reported breakthrough deaths translates to .0058%. So in my unofficial, unscientific capacity the vaccine seems to be working.

My own personal experience demonstrates the vaccine greatly mitigated my bout with COVID.

I can attest researching COVID can be a very frustrating and time consuming endeavor. While one will find many references to “following the science.” In reality, for mere mortals understanding the science can be daunting.

Here’s my unsolicited advice from my own experiences.

-Be attentive about potential COVID symptoms in yourself and others. Vaccinated people can become infected and be asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms. They

are contagious. It’s how I became infected.

-Consult your physician about getting a booster shot if you fall in the CDC recommended eligibility group.

-If you are immunocompromised, get a pulse oximeter to monitor your oxygen levels.

If your number drops below 93%, see a physician. Do not wait! My partner went from

92% to 76% in a day!

-Find a website you trust, presents in understandable language and stays up to date so you can routinely follow to stay current on COVID. The more you know the better off you’ll be. This is very much an evolving subject.

-People are still dying from COVID that shouldn’t so don’t let your guard down!



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