December 29, 2021
CommUnityCare Health Centers Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nicholas Yagoda answers some of the most common questions we are hearing as the COVID-19 Omicron variant spreads in Central Texas.
I haven’t gotten my first COVID-19 vaccine, and now I hear there are three or four required. Is it too late to catch up? Is there any point?
It is never too late to get started on updating your vaccines.
COVID-19 is likely to be with us for years to come, so starting to build your immunity through vaccines will have long-lasting benefits for you and those around you. Most of the vaccines we receive as a normal part of our healthcare require multiple doses to build full immunity, and COVID-19 is no different. It takes time to build a strong immune response.
I’m healthy and have already had the first two shots. Do I really need a booster? Isn’t that just a recommendation?
The booster is now strongly recommended based on Omicron’s ability to escape the immunity generated by the initial vaccination doses. Additionally, the immunity from only one or two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines started to wane after 4-6 months. Based on our experience with other vaccines, this is not surprising. It is quite common among our routine vaccinations to require multiple doses to achieve sustained, effective immunity. The COVID-19 vaccine boosters are following the same pattern.
I’m vaccinated, and I’m now hearing about the need to wear masks again — is that really necessary?
Masking is an important barrier to prevent infection when our immune systems are not strong enough to protect us from serious illnesses that might require hospitalization or cause death. The immunity we develop following initial vaccine doses is initially very strong but gradually starts to weaken. Fortunately, boosters help restore strong protection. So while we work to get our community their protective boosters, we return to masking to keep us safe at a time when we are vulnerable.