News that the Food and Drug Administration authorized a second booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine (a fourth dose, in other words) for immunocompromised individuals and all Americans over 50 years of age did not receive nearly the same celebratory response as earlier announcements of vaccine availability. The prevailing sense among the public, and probably at least a few healthcare professionals, seems to be that whatever degree of protection they already have will suffice. A new study published by The New England Journal of Medicine indicates that there are distinct benefits to the fourth dose for some, however. Based on the records of more than 364,000 patient 60 years of age and older in Israel (half of whom received a fourth doses and half of whom received only three doses), researchers determined that the additional booster conferred protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death for at least a month after administration. Importantly, the study was conducted while Omicron was the dominant variant. With caseloads again rising in the United States, it’s essential for urgent care providers to have answers for patients who are concerned about their risk with COVID-19.

That Fourth COVID-19 Shot Could Be a Life-or-Death Proposition—for Some Patients, for a While