Booster Shots

Atticus Chames, Staff Writer

With students and teachers returning to the classroom as we enter the 2021-2022 school year, many people at Tualatin High School are curious how the US and its school systems are planning to maintain a safe learning environment as COVID-19 continues to spread.

Right now, certain groups of high-risk individuals who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech series already such as teachers, the immunocompromised, health care workers and grocery workers are all being provided with booster shots due to a decrease in protective efficacy, since they received the initial doses over six months prior.

So what is the booster shot? According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the boosters are “additional doses of a vaccine needed periodically to ‘boost’ the immune system.” 

In other words, the COVID-19 booster is just another dose of the original Pfizer vaccine.

At this time, the CDC website states that all eligible Americans, meaning adults 18 and over who work or live in high risk environments, “may get a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine based on their individual benefits and risks.”

However, the CDC makes it clear that for those outside of these designated groups, receiving the booster is not an option just yet.

“Additional populations may be recommended to receive a booster shot as more data becomes available,” the CDC posted.

Although there isn’t currently enough data to necessitate a booster for Tualatin High school students, the possibility of COVID-19 becoming a seasonal problem is still a concern for some experts.

Troy Sutton, assistant professor of Veterinary and biomedical sciences at Penn State University stated, “We now anticipate that SARS-CoV-2 will continue to circulate in humans for several years, causing regular outbreaks. To address these outbreaks, vaccines will have to be updated somewhat routinely.”

Additionally, he clarified that COVID-19 and Influenza are very different, something that is commonly misunderstood by students.

“Influenza viruses mutate rapidly which is why vaccines need to be updated almost every year,” he said.” In contrast, SARS-CoV-2 mutates more slowly. We do not yet know if these outbreaks will occur every year, and if you’ll need to get vaccinated every year.”

While students wait for booster approval for the general population, experts agree that wearing masks and washing our hands continues to be the best way to avoid becoming infected.