With studies showing that as many as half of patients infected with the coronavirus suffer physical and psychological problems for six months or more after they thought they first recovered, wise people may want to take every precaution they can against the disease.
They may wish to heed new federal recommendations calling for vaccine boosters, now approved for all Americans 18 and older and strongly encouraged for those older than 50.
The building data on “long Covid” is disconcerting, the Washington Post reported, noting:
“[T]he adverse health effects vary from person to person. But the research, based on data from 250,351 adults and children, found that more than half experience a decline in general well-being, resulting in weight loss, fatigue, fever, or pain. About 20% have decreased mobility, 25% have trouble thinking or concentrating (called “brain fog”), 30% develop an anxiety disorder, 25% have breathing problems, and 20% have hair loss or skin rashes. Cardiovascular issues — chest pain and palpitations — are common, as are stomach and gastrointestinal problems. Those affected by post-Covid conditions, sometimes called ‘long haulers,’ can include anyone who has had Covid-19, even those who had no symptoms or just mild ones, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“But additional [published] research … found that cognitive dysfunction has occurred more often among those who had more severe cases of Covid-19 and required hospitalization, and their brain fog issues have lingered for seven months or more. ‘One’s battle with covid doesn’t end with recovery from the acute infection,’ one researcher said.”
Federal officials, working with drug maker and global data, say they have become convinced that the coronavirus vaccines are safe and highly effective, though their protections wane over time. Boosters have caused few side effects or harms in studies, while showing they ramp up the vaccines’ protective qualities to high levels.
Regulators had caused some confusion by their scrutiny of additional shots and their approval of them in varying fashion, depending on factors like patients’ age and risks. The new guidance is for all patients 18 and older to get an additional dose at least six months after completing the first vaccination regimen.
But getting Americans vaccinated — with initial doses, boosters, and shots for kids and youths, as well as health workers and law enforcement officers — continues to be a public health mess.
196 million Americans have completed their initial one- or two-shot regimens of the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, with 34 million having received boosters (additional, recommended doses), federal officials report.
They say that the country is off to a promising start in getting lower-dose vaccines in the arms of kids ages 5-12, with an estimated 2.6 million having gotten the Pfizer shot recently approved for emergency use by federal regulators.
Experts hope that more people will get their shots and boosters, especially as tens of millions of Americans are returning to their pre-pandemic travels for the holidays.
No one wants to see a fifth coronavirus surge attributed to seasonal gatherings of friends and families.
But coronavirus cases nationally are rising, even while deaths are holding steady or declining only slightly. The pandemic has killed almost 770,000 Americans and infected 48 million of us — figures that experts say are likely an undercount.
The disease’s terrible toll, however, has failed to dissuade Republicans and extremists from politicizing and polarizing public health measures to battle the pandemic. The most recent wrangling has involved lawmaking and court fights against requirements for many employees to safeguard colleagues and workplaces by getting vaccinated or submitting to regular coronavirus testing, which they may have to pay for themselves.
While a federal appellate court has consolidated and will consider multiple states’ legal actions against vaccine requirements, Florida — led by its anti-science Gov. Ron DeSantis — has blundered ahead and passed laws forbidding them.
The counterfactual fervor about vaccines among extreme political conservatives — which has become, sadly, a leading indicator as to whether an individual has gotten coronavirus shots or not — is only increasing, despite evidence that coronavirus inoculations are safe and effective in the vast majority of patients.
Politicians are now arguing in broader, even sweeping fashion against long-standing requirements for vaccinations that have offered proven protection against a range of common infections with deadly and damaging consequences, particularly for children.
We are not done with the coronavirus and the huge trauma it has inflicted on us all. Please get tested, if appropriate, get vaccinated, and get those booster shots. Officials are trying to make it as easy and convenient, as possible — and it’s free. If you’re uncertain about getting a booster or optimizing your mixing and matching of coronavirus shots, talk to your doctor, pronto. And, while you’re at it, ask about and get your annual flu shot.
We cannot ignore disease and death and embrace nihilism and fatalism. We can quell the coronavirus and we must do so before it mutates again in ways that can be even more disastrous.