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Study: vaccine protection plummets to 50% in nursing home residents

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Research shows vaccine effectiveness gradually declines six months after full vaccination.

However, there is a certain group experiencing a more rapid and sharp decline in protection against the coronavirus.

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The coronavirus vaccines showed high efficacy rates among the elderly early on, providing approximately 94% protection against COVID-19. But now things are changing and changing quickly.

Data from the CDC’s most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report show nursing home patients are at high risk of infection despite vaccine-induced immunity. This may be linked to their susceptibility to the virus, but also because the delta variant is now dominating the country.

News 8 spoke with Dr. Christopher Doehring, vice president of medical affairs at Franciscan Health, about what this weakening immunity could mean for this group moving forward.

REDONDO BEACH, CA – MARCH 08: Karen Klink, of Hermosa Beach, visits her 86-year-old mother Cynthia Tachner at Silverado Beach Cities Memory Care in Redondo Beach on Monday, March 8, 2021. Klink is hopeful she will soon be able to have in-room visits with her mother after California’s Department of Public Health issued new COVID-19 guidance on visitation for long-term care facilities. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

“It’s not surprising that we’re seeing some of the efficacy wane a little sooner than we have in broader populations,” Doehring said. “But whether that actually ends up having implications for the timing of the booster or for the strength of the vaccine we don’t know yet,. But it wouldn’t be a major surprise.”

Researchers followed patients from thousands of long-term care facilities nationwide. Vaccine effectiveness against any infection — mild or severe — dropped to 74.7% between March and May. From June through early August, that number plummeted to 53.1%.

Results of this study, authors say, show the need for prevention strategies. They list vaccinating nursing home residents, staff and visitors. They also raise the question if an additional booster may be needed sooner than what’s currently recommended by the administration, which is eight months post-full vaccination.