Getting a COVID-19 booster shot can significantly increase an at-risk person's immunity and protect against the contagious Omicron variant.
New research focusing on nursing home residents and their caregivers found a third dose of vaccine boosted antibodies by more than 85%, with high levels of Omicron-specific immunity.
The study authors said the results underscore the importance of boosters for all older adults.
"There are tens of millions of community-dwelling older adults similar to the nursing home population but are living at home," said lead author Dr. David Canaday, a professor of infectious diseases at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland.
"This data shows this group of frail, older adults with similar clinical and functional limitations would benefit immensely from a booster vaccination," he said in a university news release.
Canaday noted that the data also shows that health care workers received a significant surge in antibody levels after a booster. Many are healthy, middle-aged adults similar to the general population.
While nursing homes have been severely affected by the pandemic, about 1 in 8 of residents and 1 in 9 staffers had not been fully vaccinated, according to the AARP.
This study included 85 nursing home residents and 48 health care workers in Ohio. They were tested after their initial vaccine series, as well as just before and two weeks after their booster shots.
The findings build upon previous research published last fall that found nursing home residents and health care workers lost more than 80% of their immunity about six months after the two-dose vaccine series.
Current vaccination recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say people age 5 and older should get a booster, and those 50 and older should get a second. Those who are 12 and up and are moderately or severely immunocompromised should also get a second booster.
Researchers continue to study responses to the second booster shot in nursing home residents.
The findings were recently published in the journal eBio Medicine.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information on COVID-19 booster shots.
SOURCE: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, news release, June 22, 2022