Importance: The administration of a fourth BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine dose was approved in Israel in December 2021 for individuals 60 years or older who were vaccinated with a third dose 4 months previously or earlier to control the substantial surge of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant. Nonetheless, the association between receipt of the fourth dose and protection against infection remains elusive. Objective: To determine the association of the fourth BNT162b2 dose with protection against SARS-CoV-2-related infections, hospitalizations, and deaths during the Omicron surge in long-term care facility (LTCF) residents. Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective cohort study was conducted in Israel between January 10 and March 31, 2022 and included LTCF residents 60 years or older. Exposures: Vaccination with the fourth dose of BNT162b2 vs 3 doses that were administered 4 months previously or earlier. Main Outcomes and Measures: Cumulative incidences of SARS-CoV-2 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths during the Omicron surge. The follow-up was initiated more than 7 days after receipt of the fourth dose, which was matched to the follow-up initiation date of those who had received 3 doses of vaccine in each facility. We obtained hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals from multivariable Cox regression models. Results: The data of 43775 residents (mean [SD] age, 80.1 [9.4] years; 29679 women [67.8%]) were analyzed, of whom 24088 (55.0%) and 19687 (45.0%) received the fourth and third dose (4 months previously or earlier), respectively. The median follow-up time was 73 days (4-dose group: IQR, 6 days; 3-dose group: IQR, 56 days). More than 7 days postvaccination with the fourth dose, SARS-CoV-2 infection was detected among 4058 fourth-dose vs 4370 third-dose recipients (cumulative incidence, 17.6% vs 24.9%). The corresponding incidences of hospitalizations for mild-to-moderate COVID-19, severe illness, and mortality were 0.9% and 2.8%, 0.5% and 1.5%, and 0.2% and 0.5%, respectively. The adjusted protections were 34% (95% CI, 30%-37%), 64% (95% CI, 56%-71%), and 67% (95% CI, 57%-75%) against overall infection, hospitalizations for mild-to-moderate illness, and severe illness, respectively, and 72% (95% CI, 57%-83%) against related deaths. Conclusions and Relevance: The results of this cohort study suggest that receipt of a fourth BNT162b2 dose conferred high protection against COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths among LTCF residents during a substantial Omicron variant surge, but protection was modest against infection. These findings are relevant to the control of COVID-19 pandemic globally, especially among the population of LTCFs..
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine