RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The CDC is issuing a stronger recommendation for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, as scientists across the world scramble to learn more about the omicron variant.
Two major drugmakers have announced they are working on omicron-specific vaccines, if they’re needed.
But how will that impact people who are trying to get boosters or their first doses right now?
Monday, the CDC changed the wording of its recommendation. Instead of saying all adults may get boosters, and only those with certain risk factors should get boosters, it is now saying all adults should get a booster shot when they’re eligible.
Addressing the nation about the newest coronavirus variant, President Joe Biden urged everyone eligible to get vaccines and boosters. Although there’s much still unknown about the new COVID-19 variant, researchers say vaccines are the best strategy we have to fight it.
“For every other variant, even Delta for which they were not created, they’ve actually worked really well, and the protection Has been terrific, especially against severe disease,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, who specializes in infectious diseases at Duke.
Scientists are studying whether vaccines are effective against the new variant. In the meantime, both Moderna and Pfizer have announced they’re working on shots specifically targeting omicron.
So should you wait to see what those studies say before getting a vaccine booster shot? Dr. Wolfe says there’s no reason to wait.
“I think that’s the wrong way to think about it,” he explained. “We don’t know yet if this is going to… outpace delta and become the most common thing, and it takes any company realistically maybe three months at a minimum until they can get a modified mRNA into a vaccine and distribute it.”
While it’s important for vaccine makers to prepare for any possibilities omicron may bring, the delta variant is here now. Wolfe says we know vaccines and boosters work against delta and will likely offer some protection against omicron as well.
“We’ve got 1,000 people in North Carolina hospitals, and they’ve all got Delta 100% of them,” Wolfe noted. “Even the worst-case scenario – omicron comes here and becomes quite busy. You, having had a booster, will up your antibody titer, will up your cellular defense and you’re less likely to get infected. That’s been true for all variants so far.”