Hopefully, by the end of the day today or very soon thereafter, the Centers for Disease Control will have modified its recommendations for Covid-19 booster shots.
The current CDC guidelines still limit boosters to individuals 65 years or older and others with certain underlying medical conditions and those who are at increased risk of exposure or transmission “because of occupational or institutional setting.”
The guidelines are so broad that most adults can find a way to qualify, but the message that most Americans have received is that unless they are over 65, they cannot get a booster. That has severely limited booster shots and increased the risk of infection and transmission among individuals whose Covid vaccines are losing their efficacy.
Leaders of several states, including West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, have grown frustrated with the delayed action by the CDC, as well as the Food and Drug Administration. They have taken it upon themselves to recommend the additional shots to all adults, regardless of their age or health status.
“You need to get the booster shot,” Justice said during a Covid briefing this week. “I absolutely believe if you’re 18 years of age, you can get your booster shot.”
Justice is not alone. California started the push and at least a dozen other states have joined the growing list. “If you’re in doubt and you meet the waiting period, just get the booster,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “Choose the side of greater protection.”
However, the challenge is that not every location that has booster doses is willing to bend the CDC guidelines and give out shots. Most are, but not all. I’ve heard stories in West Virginia of individuals being turned away from a particular pharmacy.
Justice and his team suggest if that happens, you should call the Covid-19 info line at 1-833-734-0965 anytime between 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to find where you can get a booster.
The administration has also started a new campaign to encourage vaccinations. West Virginians who have been vaccinated are getting phone calls and texts to remind them to get the booster.
“Boosters are an answer here,” State DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said on Talkline this week. “What we’re trying to remind people if you haven’t gotten vaccinated, get vaccinated, and if you haven’t gotten your booster, please get your booster.”
DHHR figures show the steady decline of active Covid cases and hospitalizations has leveled off in recent weeks. Health officials fear cold weather and family gatherings at the holidays, along with the fading effectiveness of the first round of vaccinations, will lead to another spike in cases.
As Justice and his health team have advised, now is the time to get the booster. As Justice said—and as only Justice can put it—“In my opinion, if you’re breathing, you can qualify.”