Pause and reflect on initial COVID-19 vaccinations before administering booster

Trevor Gulock, Staff Writer

The booster vaccine, a supplement to the COVID-19 vaccine, is a landmark achievement considering more people today are receiving booster vaccines than first shots. America’s fight against COVID-19 has developed beyond an initial immune defense, and towards a more sophisticated response offering more protection — especially for those who need it. The Pfizer booster, currently in the process of FDA approval, promises “your best layer of protection — your vaccine — back in prime condition,” as said by NPR. Simultaneously preventing the wearing off of your initial vaccine, the booster also promises increased unlikelihood of developing serious effects of COVID-19. Undoubtedly, the booster vaccination holds significant potential not only for those who may be immunocompromised and their loved ones, but also those looking to further the idea of herd immunity. While present day technological advancements and capacities give reason for gratitude for miracles such as this, how we distribute this booster vaccine will highlight our societal values and how we prioritize them. “‘Follow the science’ is a noble-sounding mantra that’s insufficient to account for the complexity of health policy decisions,” Lena S. Wen of The Washington Post said. Beyond our capacity to develop such vaccines, humanity deserves distribution that maximizes the number of people needing the booster getting their shot while prioritizing equity and fairness. Without the stress of administering the vaccine to essentially everyone as hastily as possible, such as seen with the administering of the initial COVID-19 vaccines, our booster shot will unveil our societal values with much greater clarity.

The CDC and numerous health officials have announced that there is no longer need for lockdown, yet we still hold a civil duty to prevent future lockdowns as well. Therefore, health officials still must incentivize citizens to get the booster shot. So far, there will be no such thing as a ‘booster vaccine’ mandate even in hospitals. Mandated booster vaccinations will likely be limited to recommendations by doctors prescribed to the immunocompromised. However, there is one other area of need public health officials are concerned about; geographical areas of high COVID-19 infection rates. These geographical areas of need are looking to be especially incentivized to reduce the need for future crisis mitigation. Nonetheless, public officials across both the right and the left are urging the Biden administration to not follow science, but to do what is best for our nation socially and politically. Considering the current context following the initial COVID-19 vaccines of extreme polarization and large disagreement on how the vaccine was administered, this booster could be a chance to remedy these political factors. The Biden Administration has already claimed that most Americans will need booster vaccines, encouraging those who want the vaccine to get it, while prioritizing those who need it. This booster vaccine is a chance to mend relationships across aisles, while setting a precedent for the final consequential decisions to come (masking policies, vaccination policies, future pandemics heaven forbid etc.) Wen put it best, commenting “public health hinges on public trust, and its effectiveness depends on winning over hearts and minds.” The administration of these vaccines cannot be decided on only by scientists, but those who can provide a more holistic view of what implications this booster vaccine holds, especially in the context of our nations’ relationships. 

Currently, the distribution of these preliminary vaccines across foreign countries is prioritized by the amount of research on the vaccine provided by each country, henceforth limiting accessibility to many – and some being third world- countries. If you are a reader itching to better protect humanity from the life threatening symptoms of COVID-19, I would encourage you to explore what we could do better.

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