LYNCHBURG, Va. – Nearly 2.2 million people nationwide are now eligible to receive COVID booster shots after the CDC authorized extra doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines Thursday night.
“I qualified for the early booster,” Lynchburg resident Lynda Danna says.
As of Monday, Danna is one of more than 370,000 Virginians who’ve received an extra dose of the COVID vaccine and know the importance of it first hand.
“My brother-in-law had COVID in November and we nearly lost him,” she says. “That was before anybody could even get a shot. I didn’t want that to happen to me.”
Danna has an underlying health condition and got the Pfizer booster last month, almost a full year after getting the Moderna vaccine.
“I feel like I’m really protected.”
Doctors say those like Danna shouldn’t wait.
“That vaccine efficacy of immunity is going to wane at different rates for different people,” Virginia State Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula says. “I think it’s a good benchmark if you’ve gotten to that sixth-month point.”
Those 65 or older, adults with serious health issues and adults with an at-risk job can get the Moderna or Pfizer booster.
Those vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson can get a booster, regardless of any other criteria, as long as it’s been two months. Dr. Avula says healthier adults, especially those who’ve had COVID, can hold off.
“Having vaccine-mediated immunity and then natural immunity from infection likely is helpful in protecting you against future infections,” he says. “The problem is, we don’t know how much yet.”
There is one thing Avula says is important to keep in mind.
“We know that the way that this virus is spread, the fact that people spend more time indoors means we’re likely going to see an increase in disease over the course of the winter,” he adds.
Dr. Avula says it’s best to be prepared and he hopes others will follow Danna’s example.
“I’ve got to trust them,” Danna says.
The CDC is also reporting it’s okay to mix and match, meaning the booster shot doesn’t need to match the one received during the initial vaccination.