COVID Booster - to jab or not to jab that is the question

I wrote about the danger of Delta while it was still just a problem for India.  Regular readers may recall my comment about it coming to your town.  We all know the tune for old folks and those with other illness at this point but it is important to understand that there is more to the story.  A booster is now available to some and I see questions about whether it is a good idea to get it.  I've had the booster but before I tell you my results lets step back and ask if the risks we face are the same with Delta as they were with our old chum Wuhan. A good measure is dying so a look at some case fatality rates might be fun.

Dr William Ku looked at the Florida deaths and compared deaths overall by age to those after Delta became the dominant strain.  I was frankly shocked.  I've written about how covid works and here is a link if that is of interest.

The important point in this chart is the under 16 age group.  Clearly delta is bad for all of us but the red bar shows that it is nearly 4 times more dangerous for kids. That is still not huge but a clear warning. This is not your grandma's coronavirus.

OK, so about the booster. I do clinical trials so I've had the benefit of some regular testing as someone with a compromised immune system.  My antibody level was 24 after my two shot Pfizer series.  We hear all the time that they can't tell us what level of antibody is needed but I was freaked out that mine was so low. Other people had reported levels over 250 and 600 and 1,000 so mine were pitiful in comparison. As Delta swept into town and our ICU beds reached capacity it was a real concern for me as a cirrhosis patient.

The day the booster became available I was literally the very first in line at my local Walgreen. They didn't even have the paperwork or instructions from CDC yet.  To their credit the staff there disrupted their entire morning process to figure out what to do and to give me the booster.  I was certainly among the first in our time zone to get the shot.

Waiting for enough time to pass for a response to become effective was stressful. It reminded me of those last few weeks before a baby is due. Drama queen, I know, but having had family and friends die of covid and working in the patient community with people who suffer horribly with long covid you will just have to give me a break here. Anyone who has risk factors and doesn't fear this virus doesn't view life in any way that I recognize.

Anyway, I was finally able to get an antibody test and SHAZAAM, over 2,500.  The scale only goes to 2,500.  I had been told by Johns Hopkins that they had seen values of over 2,500 but a total surprise.  In fact I had it done again the next day as a check as it didn't seem possible that someone like me could mount that kind of defense.

Now, the docs will continue to say that we don't know how much it takes and I get that but like money more is doubtless better.  So why tell you this story?  The booster can work. Get it if you can. Everyone is different and your results may be quite different but delta is clearly more dangerous and new variants are arising all the time.  Its a bit like playing football.  Would you play without a helmet if one was offered?

 


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