Doctors urge booster shot as Omicron variant could surge
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- COVID-19 booster shots are now available for all adults and doctors say, with variants on the rise, now is the time to get one.
Health officials are really trying to drive that home.
Doctors say to expect the Omicron variant to arrive in the United States soon, if it's not already here.
And when it comes to getting booster shots, they say “don’t wait.”
Getting that jab now, before a widespread surge in the U.S., might be the best bet at preventing serious illness.
"I think hearing that you might need another shot, in some aspects, is demoralizing for some,” said Dr. Taison Bell at the University of Virginia Health System.
And booster turnout nationally hasn't been as high as doctors hoped.
"There's a feeling from when we first released the vaccines that, this is it. Once I get the vaccine, things are done,” added Bell.
Some doctors speculate the hesitancy may be due to inconsistent messaging from the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Bell says for most people, their reasoning might be more straightforward.
"It could be as simple as, some people don't like needles. You know, maybe they stepped up to the plate to get their shots but now they don't want to do it with the boosters,” he said.
But Dr. Patrick Jackson at UVA says it's important to ease worries. He says this shot is no different from any other vaccination series.
"Antibody levels, which is a way we measure the benefit you get from a vaccine, start to get lower after a certain point. That's not unexpected. With pretty much any vaccination you care to name, antibody levels will go down,” said Jackson.
With the recent discovery of the Omicron variant, a potentially more transmissible version of the virus that causes COVID-19, Jackson says getting a booster now is the best bet at both protecting people and fighting a potential surge.
"There's every reason to believe the vaccines are going to put you in a better situation, regardless of the next variant that comes into the situation,” he added.
Booster shots are now available for all adults.
You can get the jab six months after being fully vaccinated with Pfizer and Moderna and two months after getting the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Because the variant is new, there's not a lot of data on how it may be able to evade vaccines.
However, Jackson says that's the beauty of mRNA vaccines because they can be quickly modified for variants if needed.