The State of Maryland will be conducting a study of nursing home residents to check on their antibodies to inform a decision on a vaccine booster shot. The COVID vaccines have been extremely successful in protecting people from contracting or dying from the virus; however, experts are considering the necessity of a booster shot as the pandemic lingers on. As with the first vaccines, seniors and others who are the most vulnerable to COVID will be first in line, and the state of Maryland is testing nursing home seniors to establish who should get the booster and when.
Vaccine hesitancy, motivated largely by misinformation, political opportunism, and general distrust in medical institutions, has extended the pandemic and helped create the environment for a more virulent mutation, called the Delta variant. The Delta variant is wreaking havoc across the United States, especially in areas with higher rates of unvaccinated individuals. The vaccinated are also getting COVID (called breakthrough cases), but the current vaccines are still providing protective benefits, as these breakthrough cases tend to be milder and often do not require hospitalization for people in most age groups. The elderly, however, are more likely to get a breakthrough case of COVID, and they are at a higher risk of severe illness and death from any case of the virus. Plus, the elderly were among the first to be vaccinated, so logically they would be the first to see their vaccination protections begin to diminish.
The timing of the booster shot will depend on when the person was vaccinated or contracted COVID. In Maryland, 90% of those age 65 and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. As soon as the vaccine became available, the elderly were the top priority for federal and state health organizations, and they were the first in line to get the vaccines. This was because the elderly, especially those living in nursing homes, were the mostly likely to die from COVID. According to the state’s COVID website, there have been more than 34,500 COVID cases and 3,614 deaths in Maryland nursing homes. As the pandemic lingers on, the delivery of a booster shot (who should get it and when) is being examined, beginning with the state’s senior citizens.
According to Charles Gischlar, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Health, as quoted in the Baltimore Sun, the state is planning blood tests for 500 seniors in nursing homes in an effort to “check on their immunity levels.” The goal is to assess how much antibody they have in their immune systems. The presence of antibodies, through vaccination or infection, indicates the body’s ability to recognize and potentially neutralize a future exposure to a virus. Antibodies can wane over time, especially in the elderly. The state’s examination of nursing home resident antibodies will help establish the optimal time for a booster shot for seniors, in terms of how long after their vaccination or COVID illness.
The FDA has already approved a booster shot for immunocompromised individuals, such as cancer patients, recipients of recent transplants, and those with advanced HIV.
You should not wait to act in cases of nursing home abuse and neglect. Maryland law has time limits for personal injury and medical malpractice claims. As soon as you notice signs of abuse or neglect, contact a Baltimore nursing home attorney from our team, so we can begin an investigation, preserve evidence, interview witnesses, and prepare a strong case.
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