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ST. LOUIS — COVID-19 cases in the St. Louis area and across the country continue to drop, but a Washington University infectious disease specialist says booster shots are more important than ever for one group.

“If you are vaccinated, you still have a risk if you haven’t had a boost,” said Dr. Bill Powderly, co-director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Washington University School of Medicine.

Powderly said the vaccine booster message needs to be ramped up again for those over age 65

“Our immunity does decline as we get older,” he said.

Powderly said many in the older population did receive the first two vaccination shots last year, but 43% of them have not received the booster. He said the waning of the vaccine happens quicker in an older population.

“The good news is that our immune system will still respond to the vaccine even if you’re older,” Powderly said.

He is calling on family members, caregivers, and doctors to remind those over 65 to get the booster.

“If you want to have that protection at its highest level, particularly if you are older and want to avoid any risk of getting into a hospital or getting into an ICU, then boosting your immune system is a wise thing to do,” he said.

Although mask mandates are being lifted, precautions should be taken for those over 65. Powderly predicts we will be living with COVID for years to come.

“For the foreseeable future, this is going to be part of our life,” said Powderly. “I think adjusting to how we manage this is an important thing for all of us in society to think about.”