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Coronavirus vaccine boosters are now available to every eligible American, another tool to protect yourself. But who should get theirs, will we need to keep getting shots and what do we tell those who still resist the vaccine? Dr. Vivek Murthy, the US Surgeon General, appeared on NPR yesterday morning to discuss these concerns and offer 6 points of life-saving advice. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Surgeon General Said Here's When to Get Your Booster
"We don't want people to feel that they need to rush out today and get the shot immediately," said Murthy. "At their six month mark. If they got Pfizer or a Moderna and they're eligible or at their two month mark, if they got J and J, by getting it, close to that as you can, is not a bad idea." Here's who is eligible, says the CDC:
"For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series:
65 years and older
Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings
For the nearly 15 million people who got the Johnson&Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago."
Surgeon General Said He Didn't Know if More Boosters Would be Needed
"That requires a bit of looking into the future, which none of us are amazing at doing. But we're going to have to follow the data over time and specifically see how people's protection holds up. Do they still continue to have a high protection against infection against hospitalization disease, the worst, uh, death, rather the worst of COVID and if their production holds up, then this might be the last that we need for some time. And if it doesn't, then we'll be prepared with advice on what additional shots people need down the line."
Surgeon General Said a COVID Shot Every Year is a Possibility
"It's certainly a possibility. It's also a possibility that we ended up having effectively a three shot series with Pfizer, Moderna or two shots with J&J that lasts for several years. We use the history of vaccines, really, as a history of both options, you have the flu vaccine, for example, which is given on an annual basis, you have vaccines like hepatitis B, which you get three shots, and then you're good for many years."
Surgeon General Said Vaccine Mandates Mean You Should be "Fully Vaccinated"—Not Necessarily Including Your Booster
"The CDC has maintained its current definition of fully vaccinated as getting two shots of Pfizer and Moderna or one shot of J&J. And so that would likely be a where the requirements fall as well. Now, could that change over time as they get more data and assess more data it's certainly possible. But for now the definition of fully vaccinated remains the same and that's what will be used for the requirements that you hear about around the country."
Surgeon General Said Get Vaccinated, For the Safety of Your Fellow American
Vaccine hesitancy "gets to the heart of whether we are a nation of 300 [million] individuals who exist on our own or whether we're a community, one country, recognizing that our decisions sometimes affect other people. We've made decisions as a society in the past that on the freeway, for example, that everyone can't just make their own decision about how fast they drive, because how fast you drive may affect my safety and wellbeing. So we have speed limits. We find with vaccines as well. And with infections, do infectious diseases more broadly that when somebody is sick, they have the unfortunate ability to infect other people inadvertently. So your health makes a difference to my health. The vaccine requirements are an effort to make workplaces, safer schools, safer settings, where people buy goods and grocery stores and other places like that safer. And that's why they are so important."
Surgeon General Said This is How We Can End the Pandemic
Murthy called vaccine mandates "a time-old tradition, we've been doing mandates in this country since almost the beginning. George Washington required soldiers to be inoculated. School started in the 1800s with vaccine requirements. So this is not new. They also work very well to increase vaccination rates. Finally save just, let's just put this all in context. You know, we are in a moment right now where we thankfully have a lot of things to look forward to in good news, we see cases declining. We have boosters now, an option for millions of people which will extend and enhance their protection. We have vaccines for kids that may be on the horizon. And we also have millions of children, including mine who are back in school. So I'm cautiously optimistic, but my message to people is please stay vigilant. Please make sure that you get vaccinated. If you are unvaccinated, if you are vaccinated, help other people to get back stated, and please wear your mask and indoor public spaces, that's how we will get through this pandemic." So get vaccinated, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.