Thomas Jefferson

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Better get Boosted

Posted 10/24/2022 by Farah Djama

Elderly person receiving the booster, helping slow the spread of a contagious variant of COVID-19. photo by Mia Sato

A new booster was released in August, in hopes of preventing the newest BA 4 and BA 5 variants.

As summer ends and autumn rolls in, so does the flu season. Regions of the world that have already had their flu seasons, such as Australia and Oceania, had reported higher-than average spikes in cases this season, according to  CNN. The United States needs to be ready.  

Along with the annual flu shot, Moderna and Pfizer have released a new COVID-19 Booster. These new additions to the COVID-19 vaccine do have age limitations. The Moderna Vaccine is only available to those who are 18 years or older, while the Pfizer Vaccine is eligible for those who are 12 or older. These vaccines, according to the FDA, are bivalent, meaning they contain two strands of mRNA of the Coronavirus, the original and the more recent strand of the omicron variant, B.A 4 and B.5. According to Yale Medicine, these variants are currently causing the most COVID cases and are the most contagious, causing 88% of COVID-19 cases recently. Hospitalizations for the new strands have been lower than the past variants of COVID-19 because they are less deadly but are just as or even more contagious. 

Ally Larocque, Thomas Jefferson High School’s new school nurse, said that “COVID has had a big impact both physically affecting the students….when everything moved online, that had the biggest impact taking kids out of the school setting.  It’s important for their mental health, their social health, and I’ve personally seen an increase in the number of students that are diagnosed with depression and anxiety.” Mental Health America reports that the percentage of people looking for mental health support had increased by 500% in 2021 compared to the 103% increase in 2020. More than a third of high schoolers have experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, not only due to the stress of contracting the virus but also due to isolation of the lockdowns. It deprived people of social interaction and time with loved ones. Larocque stated that “Academically I think that was a pretty big barrier for people, and trying to go back to the swing of things, there has been a bit of an education gap because of online school. Not everyone can learn that way…it has had a huge impact on all aspects of life.”

Knowing the effects that COVID has had on mental & physical health, there have been many talks of vaccine mandates and other safety precautions. Larocque believes that people under the age of 18 should be required to get the newest booster “I think that vaccines and boosters are all fantastic, they help prevent a diseases from spreading especially in a school setting like this.” Safety precautions such as masks and vaccines have helped slow the spread of the virus, and knowing that the new lineages of the omicron variants are more contagious than the old ones,  Delta and original Omicron, it is vital to be vaccinated to ensure that period of isolation in the early days of the pandemic does not happen in the future. Along with many experts, Larocque believes that COVID boosters will become an annual thing, much like the already existing flu shots.