As new COVID-19 booster shots hit pharmacies and doctor offices this month, health care professionals say it’s as important as ever to keep up with the vaccine that can prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death from the coronavirus.
The newly-available vaccine provides protection against BA.2.86, dubbed the Pirola variant, says Thomas Campbell, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Disease at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
“We are in a much better place than we were two or three years ago. We can go to the movies, eat inside restaurants, and see our family and friends in-person. To keep it that way, we need to keep our population level immunity up,” he says. “That will keep the virus from causing the same havoc in our lives as it did four years ago.”
The new vaccine is also the best way to protect others, especially older, immunocompromised, and pregnant people, from the evolving virus.
“There are two reasons to get vaccinated,” Campbell says. “One, of course, is to protect yourself from getting seriously ill, but the other reason is to help protect others. You may not be at high risk of getting ill, but someone you live with or encounter in close proximity might be. You can help to protect them by getting the vaccine.”
Campbell answers some of the most common questions about the new vaccine and how it has evolved from previous versions.