CDC, doctors encourage qualified adults to get COVID booster in light of omicron variant

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 6:50 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2021 at 7:08 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As federal health officials continue their research on the new COVID-19 omicron variant, the CDC updated their guidance, saying everyone 18 and up should get their booster shot.

The change comes as leaders, including President Joe Biden and Governor Ralph Northam, urge calm over concerns with omicron.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, more than 1.2 million people in Virginia have received either their booster shot or third dose.

The booster shot is recommended six months after completing the primary two-dose series of Pfizer or Moderna. Adults who get a Johnson and Johnson vaccine will need to wait two months after their first shot to get a booster.

An additional third dose is recommended 28 days after completing this two-dose series for those with a weak immune system.

“We really want to encourage people to get boosted,” said Dr. Danny Avula.

The World Health Organization listed omicron as a “variant of concern.” Dr. Avula said there are still unknowns researchers are trying to figure out when it comes to the variant.

“We don’t know yet whether omicron is going to be more contagious, cause more severe disease, or if the vaccines don’t work,” he said.

Dr. Avula said it could take a few weeks before scientists know if the current vaccines will fight off this new variant but stressed the importance of the current vaccines.

“What we do know is that the more antibodies you have, the higher the likelihood is that you’ll have protection,” Dr. Avula said. “That’s why the CDC moved their guidance from may get boosted to should get boosted for all adults.”

A boost Dr. Avula said will be vital over the next few months as cases of the delta variant continue to spread.

“We will, as we head into the winter months, we’re going to see more of the delta variant here in Virginia.

This comes as Pfizer looks forward to approving boosters for teens 16 and 17 years old.

“I have not heard the latest on a potential timeline,” Dr. Avula said. “The younger people are, the less concerned we are about the presence of severe disease. Boosters not only protect the individuals, but they also protect the community because the more protection people have, the less likely they are to transmit the disease.”

As far as conversations about boosters for children ages five to 11, Dr. Avula there’s none yet.

He said boosters wouldn’t be needed for a significant period of time until we see immunity start to wane.

“We’ll continue to follow the data on how long immunity lasts for children who are getting vaccinated now,” Dr. Avula said.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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