HealthDay News — For long-term care facility (LTCF) residents, a fourth dose of BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine confers substantial protection against COVID-19 hospitalization and deaths during an omicron surge, according to a study published online June 23 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Khitam Muhsen, Ph.D., from Tel Aviv University in Israel, and colleagues conducted a prospective study in Israel between Jan. 10 and March 31, 2022, including LTCF residents aged 60 years and older. Data were included for 43,775 residents, of whom 55.0 and 45.0% received the fourth and third dose (four months previously or earlier), respectively. Participants were followed for a median of 73 days.

The researchers found that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection was detected among 4,058 fourth-dose recipients and 4,370 third-dose recipients at more than seven days postvaccination with the fourth dose (cumulative incidence, 17.6 versus 24.9%). The corresponding incidences of hospitalizations for mild-to-moderate COVID-19, severe illness, and mortality were 0.9 versus 2.8%; 0.5 versus 1.5%; and 0.2 versus 0.5%. Adjusted protections of 34, 64, and 67% were seen against overall infection, hospitalizations for mild-to-moderate illness, and severe illness, respectively, and 72% against death.

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“The results of this cohort study suggest a strong association between receipt of a fourth BNT162b2 dose with protection against COVID-19-related hospitalizations, severe disease, and deaths during the omicron surge,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer.

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