SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – A week ago, U.S. President Joe Biden posted a viral clip of him receiving a booster vaccine in the White House. The President did this in an attempt to mobilize vaccinations nationwide.
Today I got my COVID-19 booster shot—and just like my first and second dose, it was safe and easy.
Get vaccinated. Together, can we save lives and beat this virus. pic.twitter.com/gtNAQqmOoj
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 27, 2021
This recent move by Biden raises a significant question: will general populations soon need to follow suit?
According to Onondaga County Medical Director Dr. Quoc Nguyen, a longtime infectious disease expert, the current local vaccination levels are sufficient for the time being.
“I think the vaccines are still doing their job of protecting us from bad outcomes and death,” Dr. Nguyen says. “That’s where we are.”
Yes, infection rates have been on a rise over the past two months. But so have vaccination rates. According to the New York Times, the percentage of Onondaga County residents that are fully vaccinated has increased by nearly 7% in that period.
Of those who are already vaccinated, only Pfizer recipients that fall into the following categories have received eligibility for a booster: all adults (18+) who are essential/public health workers, living in high risk areas/situations or long-term care settings, immunocompromised, and senior citizens (65+). As of today, no official guidelines for either Johnson & Johnson or Moderna patients have been published. Chronologically, Pfizer was the first American company to begin rolling out immunization shots, so naturally it would get a bit of a head start on its counterparts. Regardless, each of the solutions are less than a year removed from their initial developments.
“We’ve been using these vaccines for such a short time,” the medical director says. “We really don’t have a good handle on how efficacious they are.”
If anything, the current situation suggests business-as-usual here in CNY. However, given the volatility of this virus, that may very well change at any given moment.
“Just like some experts say, [the future] depends a lot on the virus, it does not depend on us,” says Nguyen. “So we’ll keep on following the folks who have been vaccinated seriously to see when the protections start to wane.”