U.S. regulators have recommended COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for all American adults. The decision aims to halt the growing tide of recent infections and provide millions of citizens with increased protection from Coronavirus.
Reuters reports that 60% of Americans are already double-jabbed. The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, gave the green light for the extended booster shot eligibility last week. Walensky explained, “Booster shots have demonstrated the ability to safely increase people’s protection against infection and severe outcomes and are an important public health tool to strengthen our defenses against the virus as we enter the winter holidays.”
Fewer than 18% of American adults have yet to receive the booster shot. Many health officials believed this was because of the complex nature of the eligibility requirements. President of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Nirav Shah, revealed, “The current guidelines – though well-intentioned and thoughtful – generate an obstacle to uptake of boosters. In pursuit of precision, they create confusion. Our concern is that eligible individuals are not receiving boosters right now.”
According to USA Today, anyone who has had two doses of either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech six months ago now meets the criteria for a booster shot. Those who received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago are also eligible for their booster shot. The government has approved the mixing of vaccine brands. Data shows those who have had a single dose of J&J may even receive increased protection by having a different vaccine for their booster shot.
Studies have demonstrated that after six months, the initial vaccine efficacy begins to fade. Booster shots are important because they return protection levels to their initial, or in some cases, increased strength levels. They are also more effective at reducing the spread of the virus. Hence, booster shots help to ensure a safer community for everyone.
Studies have shown booster shots contain no additional risks. The side effects are similar to initial doses of the vaccine, and no new symptoms have been reported. It is unknown whether the booster shot will protect against COVID-19 indefinitely or require additional doses annually. Health experts are waiting to see the immune system’s specific and long-term response to the third dose. And also rule out additional variants that may begin to circulate before they make a concrete decision.