IU Chief Health Officer Dr. Aaron Carroll said he recommends all eligible IU students 18 years old and up get a COVID-19 booster shot following new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
The CDC strengthened COVID-19 booster recommendations Monday amid rising concerns of the Omicron variant, saying all U.S. adults should receive a booster. The agency previously said all adults were permitted to receive a booster shot.
U.S. adults are eligible for a booster shot six months after receiving a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two months after receiving a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, per CDC guidelines.
“If you're eligible, get a booster shot,” Dr. Carroll said.
CDC guidelines allow people to choose between any authorized U.S. vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna or J&J — for a booster.
“If you are six months out from getting your Pfizer or your Moderna, yes, I’d get a booster shot — which one you get almost doesn't matter,” Carroll said. “If you got Johnson & Johnson and you're two months out, I would absolutely get boostered.”
Dr. Carroll said J&J vaccine recipients in particular should get booster shots as soon as possible as evidence suggests waning immunity. It appears getting a Pfizer or Moderna booster provides stronger immunity than a J&J booster, he said.
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Dr. Carroll said booster shots are not yet available on IU’s campus, but the university hopes to set up on-campus clinics to distribute booster shots by the end of the fall semester.
“But I wouldn't wait for that,” he said about the possible clinics. “If you want to get a booster, go get a booster.”
Dr. Carroll said boosters are especially important as IU sees a recent increase in COVID-19 cases. Regardless of whether this is a result of waning immunity or increased time spent indoors during winter, Dr. Carroll said booster shots can help keep students from getting sick.
“Getting a booster will not only keep you safe, it keeps cases down in general and we're trying to keep things as low as possible so that we can do as much normally as possible,” he said.
Some IU students said they already have appointments to get their booster shot.
Junior Sonia Nussbaum has an appointment next week to get a booster shot at CVS. Nussbaum said she hopes IU makes booster shots available on campus soon because other students may not be able to go to an off-campus location.
“I just think it would be so much more accessible,” she said. “I do have to drive to go get my booster, and I know a lot of people don’t have a car on campus.”
Sophomore Kat Josellis said she’s scheduled to get both her booster and her flu shot at CVS this weekend. Josellis said she hit the six-month mark from her first vaccine dose a week ago, and signed up for her booster as soon as she was eligible.
“For me, it’s as much about getting protected as it is about setting an example,” Josellis said. “I'm also a resident assistant, so I don't want to be responsible for getting my residents sick. I just want to make sure I'm being as responsible as possible with my own health and other people's health.”