Delaware encourages boosters for new COVID variants

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DOVER — The Delaware Division of Public Health is encouraging Delawareans, who are eligible, to get a booster now to protect against new COVID-19 variants like BA.5.

The division said not to wait until updated vaccines are available in the fall, indicating that getting a booster now will not exclude anyone from getting another in the fall

“Better to have all the protection you can get now — and then by getting all the vaccine doses for which you are eligible,” the division said in a statement.

Regarding the BA.5 variant, the division said approximately 67% of cases sequenced from mid-to late June contained a variant strain. The agency said this means that one-third contained the original strain of COVID-19, against which, the agency said, the vaccines are highly effective.

The BA.5 variant was found in 36% of cases which were confirmed to be a variant. The BA.2 variant made up more than 50% of the confirmed variants. Both are sub-variants of omicron.

“While the current vaccines may be less effective against protecting against infection if you get the BA.5 variant strain, they still offer some level of protection,” it said. “The vaccines also remain highly effective at preventing more severe consequences like serious illness, hospitalization and death against all variants. This is where getting a booster when eligible becomes particularly important. As immunity from your initial vaccine doses wane, the boosters become critical to increasing your antibody level and continue to provide your best chances at protection against serious illness.”

Delawareans are eligible for a booster if they:

• Are 5 years old and older if it has been five months since the second dose of Pfizer.

• Are 18 years old and older if it has been five months since the second dose of Moderna.

• Are 18 years old and older if it has been two months since the initial dose of Johnson & Johnson.

• Have qualified for an “additional/third” dose of Pfizer or Moderna because they have certain immunocompromising conditions.

• Can receive a second second booster (fourth) dose four months after receiving the initial booster if they are 50 years old and older or are immunocompromised.

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