Updated 11/15/21 to add NYC
California, Colorado, New Mexico and New York City Have Made COVID-19 Booster Shots Available for All Adults 18 and older. In California, Public Health Director Tomás J. Aragón exhorted vaccine providers to “not turn a patient away who is requesting a booster…Allow patients to self-determine their risk of exposure.”
Other U.S. states should do the same, notwithstanding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recommendation of boosters for those over 65 years old, younger people with underlying health conditions, and workers who are at high risk for the virus. Here's why:
1. Everyone Will Meet COVID-19 Eventually: Better to Be Better Protected
Unless you're a hermit or completely isolate yourself, you're going to meet COVID-19 as it continues on its way to becoming an endemic disease; it's just a question of how protected you are when you meet it. In our view the FDA should have acceded to the administration's request to approve COVID-19 boosters for all adults, particularly since over 40 percent of Americans remain unvaccinated, with high transmission levels in most U.S. states. The boosters work to counter the waning immunity seen after 6 months of the second COVID-19 shot.
Countries that are administering booster shots to all include Canada, which has authorized Pfizer booster shots for all adults and the European Union, which has said that all adults can get a booster shot 6 months after their last dose (although the EU has left it up to individual countries to manage their rollouts and eligibility criteria). The UK and South Korea are administering booster shots initially to the elderly, immunocompromised and those in high-risk work environments, but may in the future make boosters available to all adults.
2. Look at Israel as a Bellwether
Israel is a month or two ahead of the U.S.; it started vaccinating its population in December 2020, while few Americans apart from study participants and healthcare workers received their first dose until February 2021 or later. With the Delta variant, Israel saw a surge of new cases in the late summer, which led to Israel's largest surge of cases during the entire pandemic, on 9/14/21 (1186 cases per million).
Fortunately, due to vaccination, hospitalization rates, while high, were about 60 percent of the January 2021 peak.
But for purposes of this post, what's notable is that booster shots began to be rolled out in August 2021, and by late September hospitalization rates fell dramatically and continue to fall. This is what booster shots in the U.S. can help with as well. If everyone who has been vaccinated receives a booster shot 6 months after the most recent vaccine dose, that increased immunity can help lower hospitalization rates, especially when coupled with additional vaccination of the community, via the new COVID-19 shots for kids ages 5-11.
3. Travel More Safely
It goes without saying that, as we run a travel company, we think a great deal about travel safety for our clients, as well as ourselves. Many of our clients are traveling significantly these days, to Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and further afield. Since destinations vary widely in the progress of their vaccination campaigns, we urge our clients to be as protected as possible, and booster shots are a part of that, as are N95 or K94 masks, and travel insurance.
Do you plan to get a vaccine booster shot if it becomes available to you?
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