Fewer people see the COVID-19 booster as essential

“Our patient community here is vulnerable"
Posted: 4:51 PM, Feb 02, 2022
Updated: 2022-02-02 21:25:37-05
COVID Vaccination

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently stated that 40% of fully vaccinated Americans have received their booster shots and according to the Associated Press Center for Public Affairs people are more likely to see the initial vaccinations rather than a booster as essential.

It is important to note that not all vaccine-eligible groups are eligible for boosters, which are only authorized for those who are 16 and older, while those who are five and older are eligible for vaccination. With the ever-changing information that people are receiving some are facing challenges as to why they have not received their booster shot.

Dr. Ghassan Jamaleddine, Medical Officer at Adventist Health Kern County, added that although we have seen variants of the virus the effectiveness of the COVID-19 booster is still present.

“It’s multifactorial. I mean people are really tired just of the pandemic, of getting the shot. Second, is that this omicron variant did not have the same susceptibility to the immune system which is used by the vaccine as the delta variant and the alpha variant,” Dr. Jamaleddine explained. “However we have to be careful here because it doesn't mean that the efficacy of the vaccine is not there. It is effective. With time, the vaccine efficacy will come down, and then we have a new variant which is not as susceptible to the antibodies that are produced by the vaccine.”

The Danger of Underlying Conditions

Dr. Jamaleddine added that many people have underlying conditions and that is one of the many reasons why people are reluctant to get their booster shot and why the rate of the administration of booster shots is not currently at its peak in Kern County.

“Our patient community here is vulnerable from health metrics. Health metrics in terms of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes are not the best. There is a vulnerability index that is looked at in various counties in California. We are considered in this area to be a very vulnerable population.”

According to the Kern County Public Health Department, 50% of Kern's total population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As of Sunday, 36% of Kern County’s fully vaccinated population has been boosted. With the hopes of these rates increasing, Dr. Jamaleddine added that there is still a specific group that is getting impacted.

“I think that healthcare workers, our workforce. Even if they don't get severely ill but they get ill and have to leave work it affects our ability to deliver care for everyone. Not only the people who have covid but also for people who suffer from other conditions.”

Michelle Corson with the Kern County Public Health Department stated there has not been a decline in our booster dose administration rates. Kern County saw an increase in booster dose administration the week of September 26, 2021, and that continues to hold at a relatively steady rate.

23ABC In-Depth

Data Supporting Need for a Booster Shot

Studies show after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus and the ability to prevent infection with variants may decrease over time due to changes in variants.

  • Although COVID-19 vaccines remain effective in preventing severe disease, recent data pdf icon[1 MB, 68 pages] suggest their effectiveness at preventing infection or severe illness wanes over time, especially in people ages 65 years and older.
  • The recent emergence of the Omicron variant further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19.
  • Data from clinical trials showed that a booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna primary series 6 months earlier or who received a J&J/Janssen single-dose vaccine 2 months earlier. With an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against getting infected with COVID-19. For Pfizer-BioNTech and J&J/Janssen, clinical trials also showed that a booster shot helped prevent severe disease.

What are the Risks of Getting a Booster Shot?

Adults and children may have some side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine, including pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea. Serious side effects are rare, but may occur.