Skip to main content

Study Shows Benefits of COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters

Posted on by Lawrence Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D.

Diverse group of smiling adults with band-aids on their shoulders
Credit: Shutterstock/Semanche

As colder temperatures settle in and people spend more time gathered indoors, cases of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses almost certainly will rise. That’s why, along with scheduling your annual flu shot, it’s now recommended that those age 5 and up should get an updated COVID-19 booster shot [1,2]. Not only will these new boosters guard against the original strain of the coronavirus that started the pandemic, they will heighten your immunity to the Omicron variant and several of the subvariants that continue to circulate in the U.S. with devastating effects.

At last count, about 14.8 million people in the U.S.—including me—have rolled up their sleeves to receive an updated booster shot [3]. It’s a good start, but it also means that most Americans aren’t fully up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. If you or your loved ones are among them, a new study may provide some needed encouragement to make an appointment at a nearby pharmacy or clinic to get boosted [4].

A team of NIH-supported researchers found a remarkably low incidence of severe COVID-19 illness last fall, winter, and spring among more than 1.6 million veterans who’d been vaccinated and boosted. Severe illness was also quite low in individuals without immune-compromising conditions.

These latest findings, published in the journal JAMA, come from a research group led by Dan Kelly, University of California, San Francisco. He and his team conducted their study drawing on existing health data from the Veterans Health Administration (VA) within a time window of July 2021 and May 2022.

They identified 1.6 million people who’d had a primary-care visit within the last two years and were fully vaccinated for COVID-19, which included receiving a booster shot. Almost three-quarters of those identified were 65 and older. Nearly all were male, and more than 70 percent had another pre-existing health condition that put them at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from a COVID-19 infection.

Over a 24-week follow-up period for each fully vaccinated individual, 125 per 10,000 people had a breakthrough infection. That’s about 1 percent. Just 8.9 in 10,000 fully vaccinated people—less than 0.1 percent—died or were hospitalized from COVID-19 pneumonia. Drilling down deeper into the data:

• Individuals with an immune-compromising condition had a very low rate of hospitalization or death. In this group, 39.6 per 10,000 people had a serious breakthrough infection. That translates to 0.3 percent.

• For people with other preexisting health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease, hospitalization or death totaled 0.07 percent, or 6.7 per 10,000 people.

• For otherwise healthy adults aged 65 and older, the incidence of hospitalization or death was 1.9 per 10,000 people, or 0.02 percent.

• For boosted participants 65 or younger with no high-risk conditions, hospitalization or death came to less than 1 per 10,000 people. That comes to less than 0.01 percent.

It’s worth noting that these results reflect a period when the Delta and Omicron variants were circulating, and available boosters still were based solely on the original variant. Heading into this winter, the hope is that the updated “bivalent” boosters from Pfizer and Moderna will offer even broader protection as this terrible virus continues to evolve.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend that everyone stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. That means all adults and kids 5 and older are encouraged to get boosted if it has been at least two months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose. For older people and those with other health conditions, it’s even more important given their elevated risk for severe illness.

What if you’ve had a COVID-19 infection recently? Getting vaccinated or boosted a few months after you’ve had a COVID-19 infection will offer you even better protection in the future.

So, if you are among the millions of Americans who’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19 but are now due for a booster, don’t delay. Get yourself boosted to protect your own health and the health of your loved ones as the holidays approach.


[1] CDC recommends the first updated COVID-19 booster. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. September 1, 2022.

[2] CDC expands updated COVID-19 vaccines to include children ages 5 through 11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 12, 2022.

[3] COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[4] Incidence of severe COVID-19 illness following vaccination and booster with BNT162b2, mRNA-1273, and Ad26.COV2.S vaccines. Kelly JD, Leonard S, Hoggatt KJ, Boscardin WJ, Lum EN, Moss-Vazquez TA, Andino R, Wong JK, Byers A, Bravata DM, Tien PC, Keyhani S. JAMA. 2022 Oct 11;328(14):1427-1437.


COVID-19 Research (NIH)

Dan Kelly (University of California, San Francisco)

NIH Support: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


  • Robert H Gandler says:

    Excellent! I have already taken five vaccinations, because one is not enough. Thank you!

  • Mark Headley says:

    You say everyone should get the new booster. My drs. strongly disagree based on my very bad reaction to the booster I got. I am still reeling, with alarmingly STILL diminishing strength, more. Please stop pushing bad medical advice. You have a duty to see we get the best medical care available, NOT THE MOST. You want to proceed as though those of us with bad reactions don’t exist? Do you have no integrity?

    • john says:

      As a funeral director i see very clearly who is dying and it isn’t anyone but the unvaccinated.
      the vaccinate date dying and in record numbers – from a cocktail of very aggressive and sudden cancer and heart failure

  • Larry Miller says:


  • Robert Gannon says:

    What of those of us who have “Long Covid?” (I’m going on 2 1/2 years and am fully immunized and boosted) Currently, Long Covid seems being best described (diagnosed?) as the patient’s out-of-control immune system continually attacking the body’s own systems and organs. If this is the case, is it wise to have yet another shot stacked on top of an already overloaded and out-of-whack immune system? At what point will the patient’s bodily systems collapse under constant assault of this booster and that booster? What is your recommendation on us taking yet another booster? What is OUR outlook????

    • NHoyt says:

      No. That’s what they want you to think. The injections are causing your weakened immune system. Getting another shot will kill what’s left of your immune system and put you in grave risk disease or worse.

  • Carolyn says:

    You don’t mention in this article rates of severe covid in comparison with the rates in unvaccinated people. Nor do you mention the extensive reports and risk of serious adverse events from repeated boosters of the mRNA shots and all its components. These things must be considered in a proper risk-benefit analysis. This article leaves out essential information and does not seem to be promoting reasonable, responsible healthcare with informed consent.

  • Betsy Bahrenburg says:

    I would like to see the response to Robert Gannon and Long Covid of 2 ½ years.

  • NHoyt says:

    Show us the peer reviewed documented proof of the benefits. Also show us the documented adverse events and deaths report unedited. Please provide the actual deaths from Covid—not complications from. Actual Covid case data.

  • solapazzee says:

    How much can the vaccine prevent illness for children?

  • Jennifer says:

    I kept waiting for the rest of the data where the unboosted or unvaccinated cohort had a worse outcome…

  • Lerrin James Derooy says:

    How is giving a person an autoimmune disease preventing illness?

  • Mary Vance says:

    I had Moderna: first-really bad swollen arm; second-felt as if I had after effects of flu for five+ days; third-high temperature, couldn’t think clearly, tried walking, kept passing out, fell on tile floor and cracked front tooth and #15 molar. This lasted two days, cost $3,000.00 in dental work and Moderna or Govn’t site showed no interest or reimbursement. Sorry no more boosters for me.

  • Sheila king says:

    Go to the seaerch engine of this website and type covid 19 what is the truth and you will have all your answers the whole thing is manipulated on purpose!

Leave a Comment