COVID-19 boosters essential for protection as omicron variant spreads across the country

Submitted by the Washington State Department of Health.

Vaccines remain the best public health tool available to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission, and preserve our healthcare system. The emergence of the omicron variant in Washington further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and booster doses for everyone who is eligible.

Boosters ensure long-lasting protection against waning immunity. All adults should make an appointment to get their booster dose as soon as they are eligible:

Six months after you receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine

Two months after you receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

“Being fully vaccinated is not enough against this evolving virus,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “It is absolutely essential that every eligible adult receive a COVID-19 booster as soon as possible. Boosters are necessary and provide an extra layer of protection before seeing friends and family this holiday season.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson are currently testing the efficacy of their vaccines against the omicron strain.

“Washington adults should not delay receiving their booster until more is known about omicron,” Shah said. “Vaccination and boosters are the best weapons we have to fight coronavirus now – preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.”

Vaccination and boosters are especially important for children and adults with chronic conditions that place them at higher risk for severe illness due to COVID-19. For these individuals, vaccine is potentially lifesaving. By getting vaccinated and boosted, healthy friends and family help protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

Vaccine supply continues to increase across the state. To keep up with booster demand, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has requested additional vaccine doses from the federal government that are scheduled to be delivered later this week. If you are unable to make an appointment at one location due to high demand, please try another. Across the state, more than 1,245,000 people have received an additional dose, which includes both booster shots and third doses. Boosters can be mixed and matched, which means you can get any COVID-19 vaccine available.

Everyone 5 and older is currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Visit Vaccine Locator or to make an appointment today. If you have questions, visit DOH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions webpage or talk to your trusted health care provider. You can also call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 833-VAX-HELP. Language assistance is available.