New COVID Booster Announcement
Lately, the providers at Kidney Specialists of Central Oklahoma have been receiving many questions about the new bivalent COVID vaccine. In order to better serve our patients, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions and provided our answers. We apologize if a question that you have regarding the most recent COVID vaccine is not answered in this post and encourage you to contact our office if you need further information.
Q. Is this a new vaccine?
A. Yes. In my opinion it is a significant advance in that it is the first vaccine developed to account for the currently dominant virus variant known as Omicron. Like influenza (the Flu), COVID has become endemic. This means that it isn’t going away any time soon. As a result, the approach to vaccine development for COVID is like that of influenza. Every year vaccine developers select 3 strains of influenza that are currently active and develop a vaccine that stimulates antibody formation against these strains. The COVID vaccines you have previously received have not been effective against Omicron. That’s why the new bivalent vaccine was developed – to give protection against Omicron.
Q. I have a kidney transplant and have had seven shots related to COVID already! Are you telling me that I need another?!
A. You are correct. If you have followed all of the CDC guidance to this point, you may very well have received seven shots already. The recommendations for immunocompromised patients have included:
- The initial series of three shots
- Two booster shots
- Evusheld, which is a two-shot passive transfer of antibodies
If you have had COVID, you have also likely received other treatments. Now, when most of the population gets COVID, they are not dying or requiring hospitalization – a much different story than earlier in the pandemic. This is because most of the population now has some immunity against COVID, whether from a vaccine or from previous infections; and many people require no treatment at all.
Unfortunately, vulnerable populations are still at risk for significant disease including death. Vulnerable populations include people who are immunocompromised, whether from organ transplant, cancer and cancer treatment, or being treated for other autoimmune conditions.
Q. Does everybody need this vaccine?A. It depends. Every treatment we give has some degree of risk and benefit associated with it. While we believe that most of the population would receive some benefit from the vaccine, the amount of benefit they receive from it depends on their risk of getting severely ill or dying from COVID. The healthier a patient is, the less benefit they would receive from the vaccine relative to the risks associated with it. With that in mind, I think it is helpful to consider the two extremes and realize that everything in between is a grey area. On one extreme, all immunocompromised patients and the elderly should benefit greatly from the vaccine. On the other extreme, young and healthy patients who have had COVID in 2022 probably don’t need the vaccine as they, more than likely, had the Omicron variant. Patients should discuss these risks and benefits with their physician and share in the decision-making process.