Health officials are now recommending that all adults 18 and older who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 get a booster shot to help protect against the increasing strength of virus variants, specifically the Delta and Omicron strains.
“Today, (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is strengthening its recommendation on booster doses for individuals who are 18 years and older,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Monday, Nov. 29. “Everyone ages 18 and older should get a booster shot either when they are six months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna or two months after their initial (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.”
Under CDC guidelines, it does not matter which booster people receive, even if it is different than the one they initially got when vaccinated.
Burnet County Local Health Authority Dr. Jules Madrigal agreed with the CDC’s decision on boosters.
“I think it’s a great idea,” she said. “We’ve been seeing a number of people who are vaccinated over six months ago who are catching the illness. And, in light of the new variants, the less spread of any COVID strain, the better.”
Studies have highlighted the effectiveness of the three vaccines in reducing the number of people contracting COVID-19, but breakthrough cases do happen. However, the vaccines have been shown to prevent severe symptoms and hospitalization.
According to a Texas Department of State Health Services study reflecting data from Sept. 4 to Oct. 1, unvaccinated Texans were about 20 times more likely to “suffer a COVID-19-associated death and 13 times more likely to test positive than people who were fully vaccinated.”
State health staff reviewed electronic lab reports and death certificates with state immunization records in the study.
“This analysis quantifies what we’ve known for months,” said Chief State Epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Shuford in a media statement. “The COVID-19 vaccines are doing an excellent job of protecting people from getting sick and dying from COVID-19. Vaccination remains the best way to keep yourself and the people close to you safe from this deadly disease.”
Researchers focused on the month of September when collecting data due to the “more contagious Delta variant” that had been surging across the state.
Now, as the Delta variant appears to be waning, officials are monitoring another strong variant, Omicron, which was first reported in South Africa. The variant has spread to Europe and other areas around the globe. On Wednesday, Dec. 1, the CDC reported the first confirmed Omicron case in the United States in California. The person had returned from South Africa on Nov. 22.
The CDC is also looking into a possible Omicron case in Minnesota. That person had traveled to New York City in late November. According to the CDC, the person has since recovered.
CDC officials said the Delta variant remains the most prevalent in the United States as of Thursday, Dec. 2.
Health officials recommend everyone 5 years and older be vaccinated and follow prevention strategies shown to work against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. You should talk with your healthcare provider in regards to getting vaccinated.