Booster shots critical in fighting omicron variant
Dec 8, 2021, 5:15 PM | Updated: 10:09 pm
SALT LAKE CITY– Getting the COVID-19 vaccine and booster may be critical in the battle against omicron.
New data from Pfizer suggested a booster dose of their COVID-19 vaccine provides strong protection against the new variant.
Lab results showed a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine provides a level of protection against omicron that’s comparable to two doses against the original coronavirus and other variants.
That’s promising news, but scientists are eager for more real-world data.
“What we’re hoping is that the vaccines, even if they lose some of their efficacy, are still going to be really protective against severe disease,” said Dr. Stephen Goldstein, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
He said early data is encouraging, but more will be learned from real-world studies soon.
“The data we’re getting on neutralization is a little inconsistent,” Goldstein said.
Research out of South Africa showed that those who received only two shots of the Pfizer vaccine had a significant drop in antibodies against omicron.
Two doses may not be enough to block infection with omicron, although they may still prevent severe disease. The third dose boosted protection against omicron.
“It’s definitely a good idea to get the booster because, as I mentioned, the immune system is very complex, and what we’re measuring in the lab is only one piece of it. It’s very likely that getting a booster will improve substantially your protection against severe disease, even if some of the efficacy against getting a mild infection is lost,” the researcher said.
Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are expected to release lab results on the omicron variant soon.
Regardless, Goldstein said it’s important to get the booster now. “Over 95% of our infections continue to be delta, and it’s running rampant through our communities, right now. Vaccination is the best way to put a stop to that.”
He added if you get the booster now, you’ll also have extra protection against omicron when it becomes more prevalent in Utah.
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How do I prevent it?
The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:
- Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
- Avoid touching your face
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.