Should we have started boosters by now?

AP reports:

Israel is pressing ahead with its aggressive campaign of offering coronavirus boosters to almost anyone over 12 and says its approach was further vindicated by a U.S. decision to give the shots to older patients or those at higher risk.

Israeli officials credit the booster shot, which has already been delivered to about a third of the population, with helping suppress the country’s latest wave of COVID-19 infections. They say the differing approaches are based on the same realization that the booster is the right way to go, and expect the U.S. and other countries to expand their campaigns in the coming months. …

Most adults had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine by March, causing infection levels to plummet and allowing the government to lift nearly all coronavirus restrictions.

But in June, the highly infectious delta variant began to spread. After studying the matter, experts concluded that the vaccine remained effective against the virus, but that its efficacy waned roughly five months after the second shot.

In late July, Israel began distributing booster shoots to at-risk citizens, including those over 60. Within weeks, it expanded the campaign to the general population.

More than 3 million of Israel’s 9 million citizens have gotten a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine, according to the Health Ministry.

In a study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, Israeli experts said that in people who had been vaccinated five months earlier, the booster increased vaccine efficacy tenfold compared with vaccinated patients who didn’t receive it.

The science seems clear that booster shots increase protection dramatically, especially for over 60s. The effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine starts to decrease after five to six months. This is significant for New Zealand as it is around six months ago we started to vaccinate our over 60s. We should now be starting to give them booster shots. Instead we are still a long way off even having a majority of the population had their second shot.

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