COVID-19 booster shots available to 16 and up; push for boosters more frequent amid Omicron spread

Brady Cicero, Business Editor

Since the start of COVID-19, development of the COVID-19 vaccine has been underway, and as a result, there has been a huge discussion around COVID-19 vaccine boosters. The boosters are meant to increase the effectiveness of the vaccine itself. Under new CDC guidelines, these boosters are now available for anyone over the age of 16 in all 50 states. 

On Dec. 9, the CDC expanded COVID-19 booster eligibility to anyone over the age of 16, who has received their second vaccine dose at least 6 months prior. This comes days after the news of a new COVID variant spreading through the country, named “Omicron.” Initial studies of Omicron indicate that it may cause more mild illness than previous variants, but with a high rate of transmission. 

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says that these boosters will help strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight Omicron and other variants. 

“Although we don’t have all the answers on the Omicron variant, initial data suggests that COVID-19 boosters help broaden and strengthen the protection against Omicron and other variants,” said Walensky (CDC).

Other studies indicate that a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine restores vaccine protection. This third dose is estimated to be 75% effective against infection from the new Omicron variant. The third jab is also 90% effective against infection from the Delta variant, which is currently the dominant strain in the United States (CNCB).

With Omicron possibly being more mild than previous variants, and boosters providing very strong protection against infection for the new variant, it spells good news for the world. The best thing people can do now is get vaccinated if they have not already, and get the booster when eligible (Reuters). 

Dr. Mary Rasmay, Head of Immunisation at the UKHSA, says that the data supports COVID-19 boosters. 

“The data suggests the risk is significantly reduced following a booster vaccine, so I urge everyone to take up their booster when eligible,” stated Ramsay.