You may have heard that COVID-19 booster shots are available on campus, but how do you know whether or not you should get one? Well, the simple answer is we all should get a booster shot. Here’s why.
Officially, the CDC’s current guidelines recommend that anyone 65 years or older, 50-64 years with underlying medical conditions and anyone 18 years or older who lives in a long-term care setting should get the booster shot. Similarly, anyone 18 years or older who lives in high-risk settings, and anyone 18 years or older with underlying medical conditions is being recommended to get the booster. Finally, it is highly recommended for anyone 18 years or older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to get the booster.
What does that mean for the NC State community? Well, for starters, NC State distributed J&J vaccines at the beginning of the vaccination process. This means a large portion of the NC State community may have received the J&J vaccine. Overall, the J&J vaccine is less effective against the original COVID-19 variant — 66.3% effective in clinical trials— compared to 95% and 94.1%, Pfizer and Moderna, respectively. This effectiveness rate decreases when considering the latest variants, although data is limited.
The main purpose of the booster shots are to get us back up to the higher levels of protection we had before against the virus. This is especially crucial for us to do when a majority of our community already started off at a lower rate.
Additionally, I have heard a lot of my friends and classmates say they won't get the vaccine because they do not fall into the high-risk categories. Unfortunately, they are wrong. We all fall into a high-risk category as a college community because we live in a freakin’ petri dish. Just think about it: communal living, communal dining and communal classrooms. Not to mention frat parties, clubs and our other social events. If that does not fall under “high-risk settings,” then I don’t know what does.
Even if you do not feel as if you need the vaccine booster, your family might need you to have it. We are all a group of mostly healthy and vaccinated individuals, yes, but it’s the holiday season. People are starting to travel back home and visit grandparents and long-distance friends. Whatever is spread around here (which with our close quarters, something will spread) will be carried back home.
Think about your grandparents who are over 65. Do you really want your contribution to Thanksgiving dinner to be a side of COVID-19? What about your little brother who just became eligible for the vaccine but hasn’t been able to get it yet? Do you really want him to get sick because of that party you went to last week? And I won’t even get started on what you might bring back to our community from a hometown that isn't as protected as our campus.
The fact of the matter is this: yes, we have a high vaccination rate here on campus. Yes, we do really well with face coverings and other forms of protection, but we aren’t immune to the virus. We live in super close quarters, and with holiday traveling coming up, we will very easily spread diseases wherever we go. We all need the booster shots to increase our immunity and protect ourselves, the NC State community and our family and friends from the delta variant, especially if you originally had the J&J vaccine.
The good news about these third doses is you do not have to hunt down your original mixture again. The CDC says it is safe to mix and match the boosters from your original series. This means if you originally received two Moderna vaccines, you can get a Pfizer booster and vice versa. NC State is currently offering both J&J and Pfizer boosters here at Student Health. The whole process takes less than five minutes — 20 if you choose to wait around for medical observation— and you even get a cute little NC State Band-Aid from it.
To schedule your appointment, visit NCSU Protect the Pack, find the vaccinations page and scroll down to the Booster Doses subheading, and for the latest information on the boosters, visit the CDC’s website.