SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen in recent weeks as the omicron variant circulates. The daily case count in Florida surpassed 3,000 in Florida this week for the first time since February, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the virus spreads, many are wondering who should get additional booster shots now?
“The real question is: Are we at risk right now?” said Dr. Todd Husty, the medical director for several EMS agencies in Central Florida.
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Husty said immunity starts waning after four months.
“If you are at risk, if you don’t want to have a chance of getting worse disease if you get it, then go get your booster,” Husty said.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized a second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine on March 29, 2022, for older people and immunocompromised individuals. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an outside panel of CDC advisers, weighed in during a meeting Wednesday.
The panel of experts suggested people should get an additional booster shot now, if they have underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19 illness or are immunocompromised. They recommend people who live with someone else at increased risk should also get a second booster now, along with people at increased risk of exposure due to work or travel.
The panel said people could consider waiting for a second booster if they were recently infected with COVID-19 in the past three months.
They also said people may consider waiting if they “may be hesitant about getting another recommended booster dose in the future, as a booster dose may be more important in the fall and/or if a variant-specific vaccine is needed.”
“I think we have to be careful in Florida about when we see things pop up,” Husty said. “Up north, viruses crop up during the winter because people are indoors. Florida, it gets pretty hot out there. A lot of people are indoors during the summer.”
In Seminole County, thousands of people still need their first shots.
“We’re actually seeing about a little less than 100 new vaccines every week,” said Alan Harris, the emergency manager for Seminole County.
Harris said they have the supply and the funding. They now rely on partners in the private sector to get shots into arms.
“You don’t really need an appointment,” Harris said. “There’s authorization for most of these vaccines. It’s just common.”