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Will existing vaccine mandates be amended to include booster doses?

Booster doses are recommended for anyone who's eligible, but most mandates don't include them.
Booster doses are recommended for anyone who's eligible, but most mandates don't include them.(CNN)
Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 5:23 PM EST
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for COVID-19 booster doses have changed, and some wonder if vaccine mandates will be amended to include booster doses.

Mary Baldwin University (MBU), James Madison University (JMU) and Bridgewater College require either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

For now, all three universities say they’re not making changes to their current vaccine policy.

“Since the start of the pandemic we have based our policies on information and recommendations from the CDC. They have recently strengthened their recommendation for getting the COVID booster and so we highly recommend it for our faculty, staff, and students as well,” said MBU officials in a statement.

MBU officials said they are considering a form of mandatory testing for when students come back from winter break. JMU said their vaccine policy also hasn’t changed.

“At this time, there is no requirement for booster vaccinations,” said JMU officials in a statement.

Bridgewater said they’re not requiring a revised vaccine mandate right now, but, like MBU and JMU, encourage boosters for their students, faculty and staff.

“We at this point highly encourage our students and employees to get a booster, but it is not required, as people are in various stages of the vaccination process and may not yet be eligible,” officials with Bridgewater said in a statement.

Even if it’s not a requirement, Sentara Family Physician Dr. Jessica Yoder said everyone who is eligible should go get a booster.

“If you’re around other people in grocery stores, in classroom settings, in offices, at family get-togethers, it’s so important to have all three doses,” said Yoder.

With the discovery of the omicron variant, she said she thinks boosters will become the standard.

“Boosters will probably become part of the overall recommendation for vaccination, especially with the new omicron variant that’s out. It’s really showing that two vaccines are not quite enough,” Yoder said. “They still provide some protection, and good protection, but it’s really that third booster dose that gives you the added necessary protection that you need to fight the virus.”

The first two doses are still effective, but she said boosters activate the immune system.

“The booster shot just increases your antibodies by about ten times and makes your immune system that much more ready to fight the infection,” Yoder said.

Boosters are available for anyone 16 or older. People who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine are eligible for a booster six months after their second dose.

For Johnson & Johnson, you’re eligible two months after the single dose.

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