How Does the Omicron Variant Affect Older Adults?
The Omicron variant, first identified in the U.S. at the beginning of December 2021, is a highly transmissible form of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. According to the CDC, the spread of this variant is greater than that of the original virus, even among those who are fully vaccinated or asymptomatic.
As health officials continue monitoring the spread, it’s important to understand how this variant can impact the older adults in your life. Here’s what you should know about protecting yourself and your elderly loved ones from Omicron.
How Omicron can affect older adults
Infection in older adults
As health experts recover more data about the COVID-19 vaccines, studies are showing those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 fare better than those who are unvaccinated. However, older adults are still at risk as they have more difficulties making appropriate antibodies to fight the virus than younger people. Because of Omicron’s high transmissibility, officials are cautioning older adults to move back to stricter safety procedures in order to stay safe.
Should older adults get a booster?
While health officials are still measuring vaccine efficiency against the Omicron variant, they stress that booster shots are one of the best ways to protect older adults. According to vaccine guidelines, patients should get their booster shots:
● five months after completing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine series;
● six months after completing Moderna primary series;
● or two months after the one-time J&J/Janssen vaccine.
In a conversation with The Kansas City Star, Dr. Jessica Kalender-Rich, a geriatric specialist at the University of Kansas Health System, said that there’s “a distinct difference between those who are fully vaccinated and boosted… compared to even those who are not boosted.”
For instance, according to recent data, 69% of vaccinated seniors had no antibodies against COVID after six months. To keep older adults — and people of all ages — protected, it’s important to get your booster at the appropriate time.
The risk of contracting Omicron in senior living communities
Healthcare officials are eagerly waiting for additional information on Omicron as it spreads throughout the United States. For now, senior living communities proceeding with caution, as visitors may spread the virus within a contained space.
Other senior living and long-term care facilities recognize they are more equipped to handle cases than they were at the beginning of the pandemic. This, coupled with vaccines, will continue to help residents live in a sense of normalcy while following guidelines, monitoring the Omicron surge, and regrouping as needed.
Mortality of contracting COVID-19
The U.S. has seen almost a total of 850,000 COVID-related deaths since the start of the pandemic in 2020. The deaths from COVID alone in the 65 to 85+ age groups are higher than every other age group combined. The most common comorbidities listed along with COVID-19 were influenza and pneumonia, hypertension, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and sepsis. While these are staggering statistics, there are ways you can protect yourself.
How to stay safe
Protect yourself against Omicron by keeping current with safety protocols such as social distancing, washing your hands, and wearing a three-ply surgical mask. Health experts also recommend older adults play their travel plans by ear, delay cruises and air travel, and limit their time at indoor gatherings.
Additionally, older adults should receive their booster shots and stay up to date on vaccinations. Talk to your doctor about ways you can assist your immune system such as eating healthily, staying active, lowering your stress levels, and regularly taking your medications.
It’s also important to choose a senior living facility that takes the proper precautions to keep its residents safe. If you need help looking for a reliable senior living community for your elderly loved one at this time, we’re here to help.
Welcome Home Senior Services & Placement Co. offers free, hands-on concierge services to help you choose the perfect assisted living, independent living, or memory care facility in Florida. Contact us today to discuss your needs and learn more about the hundreds of communities we represent.