Why Second Booster Needed for Older Adults

Some older adults have yet to get their second COVID-19 booster. A physician explains why it's important not to delay.

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CLEVELAND – It appears some older adults have yet to get their second COVID-19 booster, which is of concern to health officials and the CDC. So, what’s causing the delay?

“Two main reasons: awareness and access. I think we have done a great job with the initial vaccine in terms of awareness with seniors and also access. That has changed with the booster,” said Ardeshir Hashmi, MD, section chief of geriatric medicine for Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Hashmi said some older adults may wonder why they need to get a second booster if they already have one, plus the initial vaccine.

He believes more needs to be done to explain that the efficacy of the vaccine can wane over time, which is why another booster is necessary.

Not to mention older adults don’t have as strong of an immune system, and new variants of the virus continue to surface.

Dr. Hashmi said side effects from the second booster are very similar to those of the first, so there’s no need to worry about that.

In addition to the booster, he recommends those who may be vulnerable to wear a mask in public and social distance when possible. 

“Same measure, just consistency of those measures, wearing your mask, hand washing. We have seen that with the rates of the common flu, influenza have dramatically went down, and a lot of it was because of these great public health safety practices that everyone was on board and doing, and I think that doesn’t stop here,” he noted.

Dr. Hashmi said accessibility may also be a challenge for some older adults if they don’t have access to the internet to schedule a second booster, or they don’t have someone to take them to the pharmacy to get it. He encourages their loved ones to offer help with that.

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