BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Three large studies by the CDC show just how vital booster shots are when it comes to preventing hospitalization and death, especially among one age group.

The first study, released Friday, looked at almost 88,000 hospitalizations in 10 states found that booster shots were 90% effective at keeping people with the omicron variant of COVID-19 out of the hospital. The data was collected during December and January when the omicron was dominant.

In the second study, published in the CDC’s most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), individuals ages 65 and older who had been fully vaccinated and received a booster saw the largest gains in protection against the virus, with the 50-64 age set behind them.

Data from the report also shows that unvaccinated people over 65 are 49 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 than seniors who have received a booster shot in addition to their full vaccination series, and 50-64 year-olds who remain unvaccinated are 44 times more likely to be hospitalized compared to vaccinated and boosted individuals in their age group.

A third study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at more than 70,000 COVID-19 patients and found that two vaccine shots and a booster were more effective against symptomatic infection of the virus than two doses alone, or no vaccine at all. The three mRNA shots were found to protect more against delta than omicron, however.

Overall, boosters play a key role in protecting against variants of the virus no matter one’s age, the CDC says. The study found that two vaccine doses – but no booster – was only 57% effective at preventing hospitalizations when at least six months had passed after the shots.

“These findings underscore the importance of receiving a third dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to prevent both moderately severe and severe COVID-19, especially while the Omicron variant is the predominant circulating variant and when the effectiveness of 2 doses of mRNA vaccines is significantly reduced against this variant,” wrote Mark G. Thompson, CDC epidemiologist and lead author of the first study. “All unvaccinated persons should get vaccinated as soon as possible. All adults who have received mRNA vaccines during their primary COVID-19 vaccination series should receive a third dose when eligible, and eligible persons should stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations.”

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