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Following large immunization campaigns, the United States has loosened its limitations on Covid. The number of Covid cases has therefore increased again in recent months, but it is still a minor proportion of previous increases during the earlier years. The most affected groups this time around, though, are seniors.

Given their old age and immunity, 76-year-old Linda Stewart is concerned about what Covid may do to her and her husband. In addition, the worry increases during a season when new respiratory infections appear. When three serious respiratory illnesses attack most people in a given season, it is known as a tripledemic in the scientific world.

Due to the increase in interstate travel that the Christmas season, which begins on Thanksgiving, has caused, the instances have increased. According to a recent count, the majority of hospital admissions this season are of elderly patients, and the numbers rise daily.

The average number of older adults admitted to hospitals with Covid-19 or other respiratory illnesses have increased by four times since October. In 2020, when the pandemic struck the US, the proportion of elderly patients treated in hospitals increased by a factor of three. This indicates that older persons are now more likely than they were during the pandemic’s height to seek medical attention.

Since the epidemic started, there have been unheard-of fluctuations in the number of elderly patients treated in hospitals, rising and falling. However, statistics reveal that hospitalization rates are continuously greater for those 65 years or older than for people 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 latest wave also badly impacts immunocompromised younger individuals, which Topol refers to as the “senior wave” because of the rise in cases of impacted seniors. Topol claims that the latest Covid varieties are more resilient to the body’s natural defenses against the virus and speculates that Paxlovid may have contributed to the rise in the number of elderly persons who have become infected.

“It all points to waning immunity. If more seniors had their booster, the effect would be minimal,” he said.

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The necessity to give senior citizens boosters

To assist her in avoiding the worst consequences of the illness, Stewart claims to be using personal meds. She claims, however, that getting vaccinated and receiving booster injections soothes her and gives her confidence that she will be protected against 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.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only one-third of those 65 and older had updated booster injections, which is a worry for health experts.

“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 experience the same type of illness. The harshest effects of the viral infection, however, will be felt by elderly people. In the majority of cases, the virus is transmitted to the elderly by the younger population.

“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.

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Possibility of a community spread

According to a recent survey, nursing homes and other communal spaces are the locations for many occurrences of spread among older adults. Nursing homes are more susceptible to viruses and other viral infections as winter closes in.

“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

Source: CNN



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