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2022 Updated Covid Booster Shot Benefits and Risks

By Gary F. Zeolla


      This article is in regard to the Covid vaccine booster shot released in the fall of 2022. I wanted to post this information at the beginning of this year (2023) but never got around to it. But, now at the end of 2023, I think it is still relevant, as the benefits and risks of last year’s booster shot foreshadow those of the new booster shot, as both were developed in a similar manner. As such, details about the 2022 booster shot should apply to the 2023 booster shot as well.

    Note that this is the first in a series of four articles that have the same background of having been started in early 2023 that I am just finishing now.

Updated Booster Shot Benefits


      Vaccination will be key to getting through the winter holidays with your health intact, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a media briefing Monday [12/5/22]….

      Data is also showing that the updated COVID booster is effective against the newer omicron strains, Walensky added.

      “Early surveillance shows that people who received their updated COVID-19 vaccine this year were nearly 15 times less likely to die from COVID-19, compared to people who were not vaccinated, and were also less likely to die than those who were vaccinated but had not received an updated COVID-19 vaccine,” Walensky said (Newsmax. CDC Urges).


      The omicron-adapted COVID-19 vaccine booster developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE sharply reduced hospitalizations among older patients, Israeli researchers said on Monday [1/9/23], in some of the first evidence of the jab’s real-world effectiveness.

      The study by researchers from healthcare provider Clalit, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Sapir College has not yet been peer reviewed.

      It found an 81% reduction in hospitalizations among people aged 65 and older who had received the booster against those who had previously received at least two COVID vaccinations, but not the omicron-adapted shot.

      The study was carried out from the end of September until mid-December and looked at 622,701 people aged 65 and over who were eligible for the bivalent booster. Among them, 85,314, or 14%, had received it.

      “Hospitalization due to COVID-19 occurred in 6 bivalent recipients and 297 participants who did not” receive it, the study said. “Death due to COVID-19 occurred in 1 bivalent recipient and 73 participants who did not.”

      Though the 86% drop in mortality was statistically borderline because of the relatively low death rates in the country, it was nonetheless significant, the researchers said. (Israeli Study: Omicron).


      To comment, even early on, the updated booster shot was proving to be effective. That belies the claim of anti-vaxxers that it would not be effective.

      But to be honest, their main complaint was that there was not real-world data like the above to show its effectiveness. It had only been shown to increase antibodies in recipients. The antivaxxers wanted studies like these to be conducted before it was approved, released, and recommended for general use.

      However, note the release date of the second study, January 9, 2023. That is of course after the holiday season. If the FDA and CCD had waited for this study to approve the updated booster shot, then all of those hospitalizations and deaths that were prevented with its use would not have been prevented.

      The point is, it is simply impossible to conduct a months-long study of an updated Covid vaccine for the currently circulating variants, as by the time that study is concluded, the need for it will have passed, as the surge period would be over, and the virus will have mutated again.

      The only way to have an updated Covid booster shot available when it is needed is to do what is done with the annual flu shot—to approve and release it based in laboratory data and what is believed will be the most common circulating variants of the influenza and Covid viruses in the fall. Only in that way will they be available to prevent hospitalization and deaths in the coming holiday surge and predictable increase in flu and Covid over the winter.


Those At Risk Who Need the Booster


      Only about 13% of all reported cases [of Covid infections] in the US have been among people 65 and older [as of 12/23/22], according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But about half of all hospitalizations and three-quarters of all deaths have been in this age group (CNN. A Covid-19).


      Older people have always been known to be one of the groups at highest risk of death from COVID-19, but they now make up a larger share than ever before.

      As of the week ending Nov. 19 [2022], Americans aged 65 and older make up 92% of all deaths from the virus, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention….        “The bottom line is that age is the most powerful risk factor for COVID deaths and we’ve known that all along,” Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, told ABC News. “At this point in the pandemic, it’s not enough to just get a vaccine series. So, what it reflects is the failure of the older age group to get boosters.”

      As of Nov. 24 [2022], just one-third of people aged 65 and older have received the bivalent boosters, CDC data shows….

      Additionally, it’s not just unboosted seniors who are at risk of dying. According to the CDC, as of Oct. 1 -- the latest date for which data is available -- unvaccinated seniors aged 80 and older are dying at the highest rate of 14.6 per 100,000 followed by unvaccinated seniors aged 65 to 79 at 5.68 per 100,000.

      Those above age 65 vaccinated but without an updated booster had the next highest death rates at 3.69 per 100,000 for those above age 80 and 0.71 per 100,000 for those aged 65 to 79 (ABC News. More than 90%).


      Throughout the pandemic, I have railed about the great disparate risk among different people groups in regard to Covid-19. It is only the elderly and those with specific comorbidities that need to be concerned about Covid. It is only those groups who should have been encouraged to be vaccinated and now boosted.

      In respect to those who are young and healthy, the right is correct that they did not need to be vaccinated and do not need the updated booster shot. But the right is incorrect in not making the qualifications that if you are not young and healthy, then you needed to be vaccinated and now boosted.

      The left was incorrect in trying to push the vaccines onto all groups, irrespective of their relative risks. And they are incorrect now in pushing for lower risk groups to be boosted.

      All of this is why vaccine and mask mandates were illogical. Those who were over 65 and with comorbidities should have been strongly encouraged (not mandated} to get vaccinated and to wear masks, but to mandate such for other Americans just never made any sense.


      Also not making any sense is the following:

      Updated booster vaccines targeting the latest COVID-19 variants are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for age 6 months and older at least 2 months after completion of their primary series or latest monovalent booster dose. The booster for ages 18 months and older is available at MinuteClinic (CVS. Schedule).


      This quote came from a mailer sent out by CVS. It reflects the very wrongheaded advice of the CCD. Initially, the CCD was only going to recommend the updated vaccine for those over 65 years old. But for some inexplicable reason, they revised that recommendation all the way to those over 6 months.

      Of course, companies like CVS loved that revised recommendation. They would stand to make a whole lot more money if everyone over 6 months got the updated vaccine than  just those over 65 years.

      And of course, that would not be for just this year. Covid is with us to stay. That means, just as with the flu shot, there will be a new Covid booster shot every year for the foreseeable future. As such, if that now 6-month year old gets boosted every year from now on, he or she will receive dozens of shots over the course of a lifetime. That will be a great money-maker for CVS and other pharmacies.

      If, however, only those over 65 were to be advised to get an annual booster, that would greatly reduce those profits to not only the pharmacies but to the drug companies.

      However, this does not mean those over 65 do not need annual boosters, yet the right will latch onto this misguided advice and use it to scare all people, even those at high risk from Covid, saying it is all just a money-making scheme. But the next section will show why that is misguided.


Variants and the 2022 Booster Shot


      XBB.1.5 is the first recombinant COVID variant expected to become dominant in the United States, according to the viral surveillance company Helix. This variant is called “recombinant” because it was created by two omicron subvariants merging through evolution….

      Omicron XBB.1.5 is currently the dominant strain across the United States, accounting for 43% of cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention….

      The fact that you are much more likely to be infected by XBB.1.5 does not mean that COVID vaccines and boosters are ineffective.

      That's because the vaccines do more than just spur your body to produce neutralizing antibodies. They also teach T-cells — the memory cells of the immune system — what the COVID virus looks like, so the body can mount a defense following infection.

      “Given the mutations that XBB has evolved, it is not surprising that it is able to escape neutralizing antibodies and cause infections despite their presence,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore.

      “However, protection against severe disease remains intact in most people because immunity is not just a function of neutralizing antibodies, but a more complex phenomenon with multiple arms,” Adalja added.

      The CDC presented data on a conference call last week supporting that contention, said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

      “If you've never been vaccinated, and there are such people, you are 17 times more at risk for hospitalization and severe disease than if you had been completely vaccinated and boosted,” Schaffner related. “If you are vaccinated but have not yet received the bivalent booster, you're two and a half times at increased risk of being hospitalized.” (Newsmax. About XBB.1.5).


      Although not reflected in the study, Jackson said data to be released later on Wednesday [1/25/23] shows the updated vaccine reduced the risk of death from COVID-19 by more than twofold compared with vaccinated people who had not received the updated booster. The updated shot also reduced the risk of death from COVID-19 by nearly 13-fold in people who are unvaccinated (CDC: Updated COVID).


      Though the exact dominant variant has and will change, the information in this quote will remain relevant. It has been true for some time and remains true now that the vaccines and boosters do not always prevent infection. The right likes to harp on that point, but they do so to the point of ignoring that the vaccines are still very effective at preventing severe illness and death. That is even more true for those who are both vaccinated and boosted than just vaccinated.

      Note also the date of the second quote. That is well after the Christmas surge, and those who were vaccinated and boosted before Christmas were more protected than those who merely vaccinated and far more protected than those who were neither vaccinated nor boosted. The same will probably prove to be the case this Christmas season. In fact, overall, the vaccines have saved millions of lives.


      COVID-19 vaccinations saved more than 3 million lives in the U.S., according to data released Tuesday [12/13/22] from the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit that researches the healthcare system (ABC News. As Dr.)


      Covid antivaxxers can scream and yell all they want about the vaccines being ineffective, but data like this from independent groups demonstrate that the vaccines have in fact been very effective on the most important point—that of saving lives. But instead of focusing on this massive amount of good the vaccines have done, antivaxxers will instead focus on the following.


Possible Tiny Vaccine Stroke Risk


      The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday [1/13/23] that a CDC vaccine database had uncovered a possible safety issue in which people 65 and older were more likely to have an ischemic stroke 21 days after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech bivalent shot, compared with days 22-44….

      The FDA and CDC said that other large studies, the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, other countries’ databases and Pfizer-BioNTech’s databases had not flagged this safety issue, adding that it requires more investigation.

      “Although the totality of the data currently suggests that it is very unlikely that the signal in VSD (Vaccine Safety Datalink) represents a true clinical risk, we believe it is important to share this information with the public,” the health authorities said….

      “Neither Pfizer and BioNTech nor the CDC or FDA have observed similar findings across numerous other monitoring systems in the U.S. and globally and there is no evidence to conclude that ischemic stroke is associated with the use of the companies’ COVID-19 vaccines,” the companies added.

      This safety concern has not been identified with Moderna’s (MRNA.O) bivalent shot and both the CDC and FDA continue to recommend that everyone aged 6 months and older stay up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccination (Reuters. U.S. FDA, CDC).


      The CDC said it had identified possible confounding factors in the data coming from the VSD that may be biasing the data and need further investigation.

      Of about 550,000 seniors who got Pfizer bivalent boosters and were tracked by the VSD, 130 had strokes in the three weeks after the shot, according to a CDC official who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to share the data. None of the 130 people died.

      The number of strokes detected is relatively small, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University and a member of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ Covid-19 Vaccine Work Group.

      “These strokes are not a confirmed adverse event at the moment,” he said. “It’s like a radar system. You’re getting a blip on the radar, and you have to do further investigation to discover whether that airplane is friend or foe” (CNN. CDC identifies possible).


      Fears that the Covid booster shots made by Pfizer-BioNTech may increase the risk of strokes in people aged 65 and older were not borne out by an intensive scientific investigation, federal officials said on Friday [1/13/23].

      “It is very unlikely” that the risk is real, the officials said. They urged Americans 6 months and older to continue getting booster shots. Federal officials decided to disclose the concern and the results of their investigation despite worries that the revelation might fuel anti-vaccine sentiment.

      “We believe it is important to share this information with the public,” a joint statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said….

      The Vaccine Safety Datalink is a real-time surveillance system, a collaboration between the C.D.C. and integrated health care organizations and networks across the United States. The system uses electronic health data from about a dozen sites in the nation to monitor vaccine safety.

      Among about 550,000 people aged 65 and older who had received the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent booster, 130 had ischemic strokes in the 21 days after receiving the shot, raising fears that the two events were related. But analysis of the data using a different method did not reveal an increased risk of ischemic stroke.

      Another database, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, managed by the C.D.C. and the F.D.A., also did not pick up a signal for ischemic strokes. Neither did a large study of the bivalent vaccines relying on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a preliminary study using the Veterans Affairs database, nor Pfizer-BioNTech’s global safety database.

      Other countries have not observed an increased risk for ischemic stroke with the bivalent vaccines, the agencies said (NYT. No Increased).


      Covid antivaxxers immediately jumped on this report, declaring, “See, we told you so!” But in fact, this discovery disproves Covid antivaxxers claims.

      To be clear, what this report found is a possible tiny risk of stroke associated with the Pfizer updated bivalent vaccine. Doing the math, 130 strokes out of the 550,000 worldwide who got the booster shot is 0.024%. That is indeed tiny. The risk is so tiny that monitoring systems in other countries did not detect it. It seems limited to those over age 65. And it is possible it is due to confounding factors unrelated to the vaccine itself. Note also that no deaths resulted from the strokes.

      However, despite that tiny risk and possible confiding factors being the real cause, the CDC monitoring systems detected the risk and reported it to the media. The media in turn reported it to the American people. That all is despite the fact that this possible risk is probably much ado about nothing.

      Compare this scenario to the claim of Covid antivaxxers. It is that there is a massive coverup of an immense amount of harm being done by the vaccines, most especially in regard to heart risks. But if the CDC’s monitoring systems discovered this tiny stroke risk, you would think it would easily detect a massive heart risk. And if it released this warning despite the risk being tiny and possibly not even being real, why would it then coverup a much greater heart risk?

      The situation here is similar to what happened with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in May of 2021. A very tiny risk of blood clots was discovered. The CDC immediately put a pause on its use. Once it was determined the risk was indeed tiny, the J&J vaccine was allowed to continue to be used but with a warning about that tiny risk. Eventually, the CDC soured a bit more on the J&J shot due to this slight risk, recommending against its use, though still allowing it to be utilized.

      The risk was almost exclusively confined to women of bearing age, which is why I, as a then 60-year-old male, had no qualms about getting the J&J shot for my first booster in December of 2021.

      Something similar might happen with the Pfizer bivalent booster. It will continue to be allowed to be used, but with a warning about this tiny risk to those over 65. Maybe that risk group will be defined further as time goes on. Or more likely, it will be seen that it was indeed much ado about nothing, and no warning will be needed. And that proved to be the case.

      Note also that the risk was only during the first 21 days after vaccination. That was the same as with the J&J shot and blood clots. That is important, as Covid antivaxxers will claim a heart attacks months or years after vaccination was due to the  vaccine. But in fact, if there is going to be any problems from a vaccine, it will be most likely be within three weeks or so. An event months later is almost certainly unrelated.

      It must also be noted, no such risk has been found with the Moderna bivalent shot, so if this report scares you despite the many caveats, then get the updated Moderna shot.

      Then again, it still holds true that the risk from Covid is far greater than the tiny possible risk of stroke from the Pfizer bivalent shot, so the benefit/ risk ratio would still favor getting vaccinated even with the updated Pfizer shot.


      Schaffner said he would absolutely tell people to get their Covid-19 booster if they haven’t done so yet – even those 65 and older.

      “Undoubtedly, the risk of a whole series of adverse events, including hospitalization, is much, much greater with Covid-19 than it is from the vaccine,” he said (CNN. CDC identifies possible).


      As for those under 65, there appears to be no stroke risk. But then, those under 65 are also at little risk from Covid itself, so it also remains true that the benefit/ risk ratio favors not getting vaccinated for those who are young and healthy.

      In all cases, as always, talk with your doctor about your own personal risk from Covid and how this report affects your benefit/ risk in regard to getting vaccinated.


Slight Myocarditis Risk


      Elon Musk took to Twitter late Friday [1/20/22] evening to share his personal experience with the second COVID booster shot, explaining he ran into “major side effects.”

      In a series of tweets, the Twitter CEO said he felt like he “was dying” and that a cousin of his in “peak health” suffered myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart which is listed as a possible side effect of some coronavirus vaccines. 

      “I had major side effects from my second booster shot. Felt like I was dying for several days. Hopefully, no permanent damage, but I dunno,” Musk said in a tweet.

      He added: “And my cousin, who is young & in peak health, had a serious case of myocarditis. Had to go to the hospital.”

      In a third post, Musk explained it was not his choice to get the second booster but was a requirement to visit a Tesla location in Berlin, Germany.

      “Was required to visit Tesla Giga Berlin. Not my choice,” he said (Fox Business. Elon Musk).


      It should be noted, Musk was 51 years old at this time. As such, he is just barely into a more high-risk Covid age group. As such, his need for the vaccine is questionable at best. He does not mention his cousin’s age, but assuming he is about the same age and indeed was in “peak health” then his need for the vaccine was also questionable.

      This tweet by Musk set off a firestorm of tweets on Twitter and comments after this article on Fox News. But Fox News included the following in its article:


      According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cases of myocarditis are a “rare risk” for those who receive mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

      “These rare cases of myocarditis or pericarditis have occurred most frequently in adolescent and young adult males, ages 16 years and older, within 7 days after receiving the second dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna). There has not been a similar reporting pattern observed after receipt of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine (Johnson & Johnson),” the CDC says on its website (Fox Business. Elon Musk).


      All of this verifies what I said previously. There is a small risk of myocarditis and blood clots with the vaccines. But it is with manly younger males. But younger males are a group that little needs the vaccines. As such, the benefit/ risk ratio does not favor vaccination.

      In the comments after this Fox News article, someone posted the results of a relevant study out of the UK. I found the article he was quoting from. The  highlights are as follows:


         Among nearly 43 million people in England, ages 13 and older, who received at least one dose and up to 3 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, fewer than 3,000 people (0.007%) were hospitalized or died with myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, during the study period of December 1, 2020 through December 15, 2021. 

         Only 617 (0.001%) of the nearly 3,000 cases of myocarditis occurred during days 1-28 after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. Individuals with COVID-19 infection were at least 11 times more at risk for developing myocarditis in the 1-28 days after testing positive if COVID-19 infection occurred before COVID-19 vaccination. 

         The risk of developing myocarditis was substantially lower in the 1-28 days after COVID-19 vaccination than after COVID-19 infection, except for after a second dose of the Moderna vaccine. 

         The risk of COVID-19 vaccine-associated myocarditis was higher in men younger than age 40 after a first dose of an mRNA vaccine or after a second dose of any of the 3 vaccines. 

         The risk of COVID-19 infection-related myocarditis risk was cut in half among people infected after vaccination (received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine). 

         Of the nearly 21 million women, 7.2 million (34%) were younger than age 40, and a slightly increased risk of myocarditis was found among this younger age group after receiving a second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine: 7 estimated extra cases of myocarditis for every one million women vaccinated. 

         Among women older than age 40, a slight increased risk of myocarditis was associated with receiving a first or third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, respectively 3 and 2 estimated additional cases of myocarditis for every one million women vaccinated. 

         Among women younger than age 40, the risk of infection-associated myocarditis was higher compared to the risk of vaccine-associated myocarditis: 8 extra cases associated with having COVID-19 infection before vaccination. 

         Among women older than age 40, the risk of infection-associated myocarditis was higher compared to the risk of vaccine-associated myocarditis: 51 extra cases associated with having COVID-19 infection before vaccination (Newsroom. Myocarditis).


      This study verifies what I documented previously. There is a tiny risk of myocarditis with the vaccines, but it is smaller than the risk of the same after a Covid infection. Note also, the risk after infection was reduced, not increased, if the person had been vaccinated before infection. That confirms a supposition I made previously.

      However, Covid antivaxxers will respond by saying 3,000 deaths is still a lot of deaths. But the study does not say there were 3,000 deaths. That 3,000 number is the combined number of hospitalizations and deaths. I do not know why they are not separated. The study also does not say how long people were hospitalized. It also does not say all of those cases of myocarditis were due to the vaccines. There would have been cases vaccines or not vaccines, but eh study does not mention what the normal number of cases would have been during that time period.

      But whatever the cases there, the numbers are tiny when looked at percentagewise, 0.007% or seven out of a million.


      Note also the following:

      Several previous studies and reports from public health agencies around the world including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have highlighted a possible connection and potentially increased risk of myocarditis after receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, generating considerable scientific, policy and public interest (News. Medical Life sciences. Myocarditis risk).


      Again, there is no “cover up” of this risk, as Covid antivaxxers claim. It is well-known and has been and is being studied. But the studies bear out that the risk is indeed tiny and smaller than the same risk from Covid. But again, given that tiny risk, the vaccines are not warranted and should never have been mandated for those in low-risk groups.

      Of course, this  whole discussion assumes Musk is being honest about his experience and that of his cousin. But I have reported previously that Covid antivaxxers are not adverse at making things up to make their case. And a commentator on the Fox News article noted, “Musk fined $20 Million for lying on Twitter and now in Trial for a class action suite [sic] because of his lies on Twitter.”

      I have no way of knowing whether Musk is being honest about his experience or not. But actual research, not fearmongering by antivaxxers, supports my thesis that the risk is tiny and smaller than that from Covid itself. But still, those at low risk from Covid should consider this risk before getting vaccinated.

      However, it still holds true that for those at high-risk from Covid, the benefit/ risk ratio greatly favors getting vaccinated. But as always, talk with your doctor about your own personal risks.


The next article in this series is More Covid Right-Wing Deceptions and Left-Wing Miscues.



    ABC News. As Dr. Anthony Fauci leaves public service, he fears health misinformation.

     AP. Elon Musk takes witness stand to defend Tesla buyout tweets (via Trib Live).

    CDC: Updated COVID Vaccines Effective Against Latest Variants.

    CNN. A Covid-19 ‘senior wave’ is driving up hospitalizations.

    CNN. CDC identifies possible safety issue with Pfizer’s updated Covid-19 vaccine but says people should still get boosted.

    CVS. Schedule your COVID-19 vaccine today.

    News. Medical Life sciences. Myocarditis risk greater after SARS-CoV-2 infection than after first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

    Newsmax. About XBB.1.5: The Dominant and Most Transmissible COVID Variant.

    Newsmax. CDC Urges Vaccination, Masking as 'Tripledemic' Hits More Americans.

    Newsmax. Israeli Study: Omicron COVID Booster Cuts Hospitalization in Over 65s by 81 Percent.

    Newsroom. Myocarditis risk significantly higher after COVID-19 infection vs. after a COVID-19 vaccine.

    NYT. No Increased Stroke Risk Linked to Pfizer’s Covid Boosters, Federal Officials Say.

    Reuters. U.S. FDA, CDC see early signal of Pfizer bivalent COVID shot's link to stroke.


2022 Updated Booster Shot Benefits and Risks. Copyright 2023 by Gary F. Zeolla (

God-given Foods Eating Plan
For Lifelong Health, Optimization of Hormones, Improved Athletic Performance

    The approach of this book is to study different foods and food groups, with a chapter devoted to each major classification of foods. First the Biblical evidence is considered, then the modern-day scientific research is reviewed. Foods are then classified as “God-given foods” and “non-God-given foods.” The main point will be a healthy eating plan is composed of a variety of God-given foods and avoids non-God-given foods.

The above article was posted on this website December 6, 2023.

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