Boosters reduce vulnerability to COVID-19 variants

Dec 1, 2021 | Jennifer O'Hara | @jenohara | Comments (16)

Omicron, a new COVID-19 variant of concern, has been detected in all regions of the world, including North America. While research and clinical observations on the new strain are underway, it is not yet known what impact, if any, omicron will have on the immune response, transmissibility, or specific COVID-19 treatments.

The emergence of omicron is a reminder to take important steps to protect yourself against COVID-19.

"The answer is masking and boosters," says Dr. Gregory Poland, head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group.

Dr. Poland is encouraged by vaccine booster rates in the U.S. "In a relatively short period of time, about 36% of adults who are eligible have indeed gotten a booster," says Dr. Poland. "There's plenty of vaccine available. So in the strongest possible terms, I would recommend getting that booster."

Adults who are six months past completing their initial Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination series are eligible to receive a booster dose, as are adults who are two months past completing their initial dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland discusses the omicron variant and COVID-19 boosters, and he answers some listener questions.

To practice safe social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, this interview was conducted using video conferencing. The sound and video quality are representative of the technology used. For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in an area not designated for patient care, where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

Read the full transcript.

Research disclosures for Dr. Gregory Poland.

Connect with others talking about the pandemic and supporting one another in the COVID-19 support group.

Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date.

For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

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I had covid before the vaccines, was hospitalized with a pneumonia, I recovered, my husband was intubated in ICU and passed away, I have my 2 vaccines (Moderna) and the booster (Moderna too). I am from Puerto Rico where the pandemia is pretty well controlled, but now I am in Utah where many people don't use masks and we don't know if they had or not the vaccines, I am scared, I do use my mask always (but when I eat) and don't get close to anyone. Leaving with the feeling that it may take me again, thanks for your valuable information Elba

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I would prefer the Omicron variant to another jab. I’m healthy and stronger than ever since my cancer diagnosis. Symptoms are mild to none and I get natural immunity without the risk of side effects of the vaccine.

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@henrytimmins

I would prefer the Omicron variant to another jab. I’m healthy and stronger than ever since my cancer diagnosis. Symptoms are mild to none and I get natural immunity without the risk of side effects of the vaccine.

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Little is known about Omicron and data from another country do not necessarily mean the same things will occur in our country. That caveat aside for a moment, even mild cases of Covid can cause long term complications. The picture on Omicron will be more clear in a couple of weeks. I’m not trying to change your mind but at the very least you might consider taking the usual precautions of masking, distancing and washing until more is known.

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I was a participant in the 3rd stage clinical trial for the Novavax vaccine. I speak for myself, but I suspect that other participants are feeling a trifle neglected regarding a booster shot, or even if there is a need for one. I contacted the researchers some time ago when talk of boosters was on the rise. At the time, I was told that they were waiting for government approval. That was a few weeks ago. Nothing since. The appearance of the Omicron variant lends more urgency. I hesitate to inquire again, not wanting to come across as hectoring. I do not want to avail myself of either the Pfizer or Moderna boosters as it would confound my data for the Novavax study, given that I have two blood draws scheduled a year and two years after the vaccination. At age 71, however, I am considered to be in a vulnerable demographic. I confess I feel a little bit like I'm twisting in the wind and do not want to talk myself into being alarmed.

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@henrytimmins

I would prefer the Omicron variant to another jab. I’m healthy and stronger than ever since my cancer diagnosis. Symptoms are mild to none and I get natural immunity without the risk of side effects of the vaccine.

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We do not know yet if symptoms are mild. Some are hospitalized. The sample size so far is small and skews young.

The other thing is, vaccinations are not just for ourselves. Even if you have an asymptomatic case, you may infect the vulnerable elderly or immunocompromised person next to you in the store.

Many people have few side effects from the vaccine and they cannot transmit from the vaccine as they do from the virus. I had 3 miserable days, not horrible, with my 3rd but worth it and hopefully not endangering others as much as I would without the jab.

It's about public health even more than personal health.

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@windyshores

We do not know yet if symptoms are mild. Some are hospitalized. The sample size so far is small and skews young.

The other thing is, vaccinations are not just for ourselves. Even if you have an asymptomatic case, you may infect the vulnerable elderly or immunocompromised person next to you in the store.

Many people have few side effects from the vaccine and they cannot transmit from the vaccine as they do from the virus. I had 3 miserable days, not horrible, with my 3rd but worth it and hopefully not endangering others as much as I would without the jab.

It's about public health even more than personal health.

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I’m pleased that you took the vaccine. You will No doubt feel compelled to take all the boosters after that. I have taken no vaccines and that is my choice. I don’t feel like I have to take a vaccine to protect you if you’ve already got the vaccine that’s what supposed to protect you. Funny thing is that the conventional flu has all been eradicated for the past year and a half sort of strange. Also the incidences of after affects of the vaccines have not been properly Acknowledged by VARS. Myocarditis and other heart related incidences are very high especially among young males.

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@henrytimmins

I’m pleased that you took the vaccine. You will No doubt feel compelled to take all the boosters after that. I have taken no vaccines and that is my choice. I don’t feel like I have to take a vaccine to protect you if you’ve already got the vaccine that’s what supposed to protect you. Funny thing is that the conventional flu has all been eradicated for the past year and a half sort of strange. Also the incidences of after affects of the vaccines have not been properly Acknowledged by VARS. Myocarditis and other heart related incidences are very high especially among young males.

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I am immunocompromised so no, I am not protected near you, nor is my elderly mother, whose immune response is weak.

I have read VARS. Myocarditis stats have been published. Worse with Moderna but not "very high" incidence.

No more discussion here. It is too emotional to communicate with anti-vaxxers for me. I also have an immunocompromised child and you would endanger her in a store or on the bus.

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I’m not an anti-VAXer. I am anti-vax mandate. As I said, you do what is important for you. I respect that.

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@henrytimmins

I’m pleased that you took the vaccine. You will No doubt feel compelled to take all the boosters after that. I have taken no vaccines and that is my choice. I don’t feel like I have to take a vaccine to protect you if you’ve already got the vaccine that’s what supposed to protect you. Funny thing is that the conventional flu has all been eradicated for the past year and a half sort of strange. Also the incidences of after affects of the vaccines have not been properly Acknowledged by VARS. Myocarditis and other heart related incidences are very high especially among young males.

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Dr. Greg Poland, who advises the vaccine makers, often talks in his podcasts about myocarditis in young men who have had their shots. I’m sure the vaccine makers and other entities are fully informed.

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@henrytimmins

I would prefer the Omicron variant to another jab. I’m healthy and stronger than ever since my cancer diagnosis. Symptoms are mild to none and I get natural immunity without the risk of side effects of the vaccine.

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Interesting, does your doctor agree? Was the diagnosis a long time ago?

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@windyshores

We do not know yet if symptoms are mild. Some are hospitalized. The sample size so far is small and skews young.

The other thing is, vaccinations are not just for ourselves. Even if you have an asymptomatic case, you may infect the vulnerable elderly or immunocompromised person next to you in the store.

Many people have few side effects from the vaccine and they cannot transmit from the vaccine as they do from the virus. I had 3 miserable days, not horrible, with my 3rd but worth it and hopefully not endangering others as much as I would without the jab.

It's about public health even more than personal health.

Jump to this post

IMO To get vaccinated to protect others is not in line with why the vaccine was primarily developed or approved. The person next to me has to protect themselves as I have to acknowledge that every person's different and there is no assurance of no bad effects from getting vaccinated (plus can't sue government or manf's) People also can exercise a lot more control over how they are exposed. I can't agree it is a question of selfishness, because the first thing I think of, is how I might protect others, but I also consider all the facts and the options as they relate to that. If you are truly that compromised and are not vaccinated, why? If you are, you still should assess every situation you put yourself into.

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RE: the Omicron strain, seems like some relevant questions are; will there be a different vaccine developed that will be better? Is that the basis to hold off on getting a current booster? I expect, and hope that clarity in that area will come in the next two weeks…

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