In light of massive immunization initiatives, the United States has since loosened Covid limitations. Therefore, even though there has been a recent increase in Covid cases, this increase pales in comparison to previous increases over the past years. Senior folks are among the most affected this time around, though.
Considering her age and immunity, 76-year-old Linda Stewart expressed concern about what Covid would do to her and her husband. The worry increases as the season for newly developing respiratory infections approaches. The tripledemic, a season when three serious respiratory illnesses strike the majority of people, is the name given to the phenomena by the scientific community.
The instances are being driven by an increase in interstate travel brought on by the Christmas season, which began on Thanksgiving. In addition, a new count indicates that older folks have been admitted to hospitals at a higher rate than usual this season.
Seniors hospitalized for COVID-19 or other similar respiratory disorders have doubled on average since October. However, only three times as many older citizens were hospitalized with the sickness when the epidemic struck the US in 2020.
This indicates that more older individuals are now seeking medical attention than during the pandemic’s height. Since the epidemic started, there have been unheard-of fluctuations in the number of seniors admitted to hospitals, with both drops and increases. However, evidence indicates that hospitalization rates among people 65 and older are continuously greater than in other age groups.
“Right now, we have an immunity wall built up against the Omicron family – between shots and prior infections and combinations thereof – that seems to be keeping younger folks in pretty good stead. But the immune systems of people of advanced age are not as strong,” explained Dr. Eric Topol from Scripps Research.
The newest wave also significantly impacts immunocompromised younger individuals. Topol refers to the rise in cases of impacted seniors as the “senior wave.” According to Topol, Paxlovid may have contributed to the rise in the number of infected older adults since the new Covid types are more elusive to people’s built-up immunity to the virus.
“It all points to waning immunity. If more seniors had their booster, the effect would be minimal,” he said.
Senior citizens receiving booster shots
Stewart claims that to lessen the illness’s terrible impacts, and she uses personal drugs. However, she claims that becoming immunized and having booster injections has helped reassure her and calm her about being protected from the worst consequences of Covid-19.
“I’m paying attention to the fact that it’s picking up, so I’m a little bit more careful than I was, say, six weeks ago. With the pickup, I haven’t reverted to how I was handling it a couple of years ago, but I’m more aware of who I’m around and maybe wearing my mask a little bit more than I used to,” she said.
“That was the whole idea of being so proactive with all these vaccines. There was a very good chance that yeah, you might get sick, but you wouldn’t get as sick as someone who didn’t get all their shots and there was a really good chance you wouldn’t end up in the hospital. So that really gave me a sense of security in some ways that even if I did get it, it wouldn’t be really bad,” Stewart added.
Health officials should be concerned that just one-third of those 65 and older received updated booster injections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
“It’s very, very concerning. There’s a sizable number of people who actually got previous boosters who have not gotten this one, and I worry that there’s confusion, there’s misinformation. So to seniors – and to everyone – I say: if you have not been boosted, go get boosted,” said Dr. Preeti Malani from the University of Michigan Health.
“The truth is that, really, anyone can get this. But the older you are, the more likely you are to have severe symptoms, the more likely you are to be hospitalized, and the more likely you are to die,” Malani added.
According to experts, all age groups are infected using the same technique of transmission. However, the elderly are the ones who would suffer the most from the virus’s infection. And most often, it is the younger generation that spreads the illness to the elderly.
“Seniors are the most at risk, but we bring it to them. A thing unique to older adults is that many are grandparents, and many provide childcare for their grandchildren. So they sometimes get infected from their grandkids, who may also be going to school or daycare,” said Malani.
According to a recent survey, nursing homes and other environments where people congregate frequently have incidents of spread among older persons. Additionally, as winter quickly approaches, nursing homes are more susceptible to viruses and other viral infections.
“We all would have hoped we would have a vaccine that prevents transmission. Unfortunately, we don’t have a vaccine that does that, but it does reduce transmission, and it does reduce severe outcomes,” explained Janet Hamilton, Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists executive director.
“But really, any individuals that come in contact with high-risk groups need to be the primary focus for getting vaccinated,” Hamilton added.
Photo Credit: WHO