Senior man wearing a protective face mask is getting vaccination from a person with white surgical gloves.

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As COVID-19 variants continue to pose new challenges, many wonder: Are COVID-19 shots still necessary? A recent groundbreaking paper by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) provides crucial insights into this question.

The report, titled “Quantifying the Economic and Health Benefits from Rapid-Development COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters,” authored by Michael Mandel, PhD, Chief Economist, Progressive Policy Institute (ppi), Robert Popovian, PharmD, MS, Chief Policy Science Officer at GHLF, and Wayne Winegarden, PhD, Director, Center for Medical Economics and Innovation, Pacific Research Institute, emphasizes the vital role of boosters in protecting against evolving variants.

It turns out our hopes of beating COVID-19 solely with vaccines were a bit too optimistic. As of November 2022, around 77.5 percent of people had caught COVID-19 at least once, with even higher rates among those aged 16 to 49. It’s a reminder that COVID-19 is still a significant challenge we’re facing.

But here’s the good news: Vaccination really does help protect us from the worst outcomes of COVID-19, and the data speaks volumes. According to the ppi paper, COVID shots have…

  • Saved an estimated 2.9 million lives
  • Prevented 12.5 million hospitalizations
  • Spared a staggering $500 billion in hospital costs

“The data shows that COVID-19 vaccines have provided enormous health and economic benefits to the United States, saving millions of lives and hospitalizations, as well as $500 billion in hospital costs,” said Dr. Mandel. “This comprehensive report also analyzes the individual consequences of deciding whether or not to receive a COVID-19 booster and finds that there is a great economic benefit to getting COVID boosters.”

Vaccines and Immunity

But the findings do not stop there. The authors explored the importance of COVID-19 shots in the ongoing battle against new variants. COVID-19 vaccines act as an extra layer of defense, providing a crucial immunity boost in the face of evolving challenges.

“Immunization continues to be the most cost-effective and clinically safe way of gaining immunity against viral pathogens of COVID-19,” says Dr. Popovian. “While the data demonstrates that both prior infection and vaccination provide similar protection against future COVID-19 infections, there are typically more health and economic consequences from obtaining protection through prior infection compared to vaccination.”

Dr. Popovian explains that while natural immunity theoretically provides similar protection to vaccination, it requires experiencing the illness itself, which can lead to severe outcomes such as hospitalization or even death. “With vaccinations, you avoid the illness, you avoid the potential bad outcome, and you get to the back end, having gained immunity toward a very deadly disease,” he says.

Furthermore, the report sheds light on the economic consequences of skipping booster shots. For instance, a 30-year-old who foregoes boosters could face economic losses of $654 over the next five years, while a 75-year-old might endure losses exceeding $65,000. These figures underscore the tangible benefits of prioritizing booster shots, particularly for those at higher risk.

Making Informed Decisions

If you’re unsure about getting another COVID shot, don’t hesitate to reach out to your health care provider. They can provide personalized guidance based on your individual health needs and circumstances.

As we navigate the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19 and its variants, it’s essential to prioritize health, safety, and informed decision-making. This includes working together with health care providers and staying informed about the latest recommendations so you can take proactive steps to protect yourself and your community.

“We cannot go back to the days that we were hesitant about immunization because COVID is one infection — there are many other infections out there,” says Dr. Popovian. “And we need to protect our patients, especially our most vulnerable patients who happen to be elderly or immunocompromised.”

Vaccine Advocacy, Research, and Education

The Global Healthy Living Foundation (GHLF) is dedicated to promoting accurate, evidence-based insights on vaccines and vaccine research. We consistently provide resources that highlight the importance of vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, we advocate for collaborative decision-making between patients and health care providers while creating content tailored to both patients and policymakers. Learn more.

Get Free Coronavirus Support for Chronic Illness Patients

Join GHLF’s free COVID-19 Support Program for chronic illness patients and their families. We will be providing updated information, community support, and other resources tailored specifically to your health and safety. Join now.

To learn more about the impact of COVID-19 vaccines, listen to a special episode of Healthcare Matters with Dr. Popovian.

Mandel, M, et al. “Quantifying the Economic and Health Benefits from Rapid-Development COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters.” Progressive Policy Institute (ppi). January 2024.

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