CDC studies show vaccine immunity waning; why health leaders say the shot is still important – WHIO TV 7 and WHIO Radio

MIAMI VALLEY — Two studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that for the fully vaccinated, immunity to the COVID-19 virus is declining, information that is also supported by data from a local healthcare provider.

Data from Reid Health showed the healthcare provider had 38 people actively in their hospitals Sunday with COVID-19 and eight of those patients were vaccinated. The data shows a 21 percent COVID-19 breakthrough rate. Over the last two months Reid Health reported about 10 percent of its cases were considered breakthrough cases.

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A breakthrough case is defined as a patient who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and tests positive for the virus.

“The vaccinated cases are usually less ill. The sickest patients are almost all middle-aged, overweight, diabetic, and unvaccinated. So, vaccination does confer protection,” said Dr. Thomas Huth, vice president of medical affairs at Reid Health. “It’s just that waning antibody levels combined with a highly contagious Delta variant means more breakthrough cases. Booster shots for the most at-risk will help because studies show they cause a larger increase in antibodies than did the original vaccinations.”

According to the CDC studies, the vaccine’s effectiveness, which was at 91% before the delta variant became the dominant variant of the virus, has dropped to 66%.

>> MORE: CDC studies: Vaccine immunity waning, but still protects against serious illness

News Center 7 asked Premier Health, Kettering Health, Mercy Health and Dayton Children’s Hospital for the same data, however all four hospital systems were unable to provide specific numbers and deferred to the Ohio Department of Health coronavirus dash board.

The state’s dashboard does not provide a daily breakdown of breakthrough cases by hospital system, but does provide breakthrough cases year-to-date.

In Ohio, there have been 20,156 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in 2021 and of those 407 have been fully vaccinated, according to the Ohio Department of Health. That accounts for about two percent of the state’s hospitalizations being considered a breakthrough case so far this year.

One percent of COVID-19 deaths reported in Ohio in 2021 have involved people who were fully vaccinated, Ohio Department of Health data shows.

News Center 7 has requested more specific monthly data from the Ohio Department of Health on breakthrough cases and are awaiting a response.

Ohio’s Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the initial job of the vaccines was to prevent serious and deadly cases of COVID-19.

“Protection against severe illness and death, which the vaccines continue to offer very robustly, was in fact the original goal of these vaccines,” Vanderhoff said last week.

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“Vaccines against respiratory viruses rarely protect against mild to moderate infections as well as they protect against severe illness, because they are much better of inducing immunity in the lungs than in the nose, where respiratory viruses first infect our bodies,” Vanderhoff said. ‘While immunity against more moderate infection may begin to wain, our protection against severe illness and death is much more likely to endure.”

President Joe Biden said that coronavirus booster shots will be available starting the week of September 20, pending approval by the FDA.

The shots will be free and will be provided to people eight months after they received their second shot of the vaccine, the president said.

Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech announced they’ve submitted initial data to the Food and Drug Administration showing that a booster dose of the vaccine developed by the companies “may help maintain a high level of protection against COVID-19.”

In a news release, officials with the companies recommended that a booster dose be given to people vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine six to 12 months after they’ve gotten their second dose. As evidence, they pointed to preliminary data made public last month that showed that when tested against the delta variant, a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine produced neutralizing antibody titers that were as many as 11 times as strong in people as after a second vaccine dose.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has already recommended that people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised get an additional vaccine dose if they’ve received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccines.

Officials said recommendations for those who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were not immediately available due to a lack of sufficient evidence.

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