Why Boosters Are Important, Now More Than Ever
The long-awaited vaccines were the solution the world was waiting for. Yet we’re still not done with the pandemic. Here’s why the original shot or two-dose series may not be enough to protect you from Omicron.
“We’re learning quite a bit about Omicron now. We absolutely know that it spreads super fast. In a matter of a week or so it totally took over the landscape,” said David Basel, MD, Avera Medical Group Vice President for Clinical Quality.
Mutations to the spike protein are behind it all. Continued activity is why we all need to continue to take COVID seriously.
More Antibodies Are Needed to Fight Omicron
Antibodies created by natural immunity or vaccines cover or coat the spike protein of the virus, making it difficult or impossible for the virus to adhere to a cell wall and ultimately enter a human cell.
“Antibodies aren’t as sticky to the mutated spike protein so they aren’t as effective at keeping the virus out,” Basel said. “We need a higher level of antibodies that can coat that spike protein in greater numbers to keep it from entering a cell.”
That’s what the booster provides. “A booster shot gets that level of antibodies up, especially over time, and keeps it at that higher level – this is particularly important with Omicron,” Basel said.
Boosters for Everyone Age 12 and Up
Boosters are available for anyone age 12 and over. People who got the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can get a booster five months after the initial two-shot series. People who got the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine can get a booster two months after the initial shot.
While they can’t get a booster yet, children ages 5-11 can still benefit from being vaccinated with the two-dose Pfizer vaccine approved for this age group. “Vaccination will still offer protection to children from serious illness due to COVID. It’s the best protection available for them,” Basel said.
For those vulnerable littles ages 0-4, there’s no vaccine yet. “The best way we can protect young children is for anyone who’s eligible to get vaccinated and boosted,” Basel added.
Learn more about COVID and vaccination at Avera.org/COVID19