Should you get the COVID booster? What SC health officials say as omicron variant hits US

Julia Wall/jwall@newsobserver.com
·2 min read

A spike in COVID-19 cases traditionally follows major holidays in South Carolina, and Palmetto State residents need to take steps to protect themselves before Christmas, state health officials warned Wednesday.

All those eligible for the coronavirus booster shot should consider getting it, said Dr. Brannon Traxler, the director of public health at the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

But who’s eligible to get an additional dose of the vaccine?

All people 18 and older who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 — regardless of whether they received the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccine — should get the booster shot, Traxler told reporters during a news conference Wednesday.

Those who originally received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine should get a booster six months after receiving their second dose, Traxler said. Johnson & Johnson recipients should get the booster two months after their dose.

Vaccinated residents don’t need to get same brand booster shot as they got for their original vaccine, Traxler said. So, for example, if someone originally got the Moderna vaccine, they could opt for the Pfizer booster.

Only Pfizer and Moderna have approved booster shots.

As of Nov. 28, more than 502,000 South Carolinians had received their booster shot, Traxler said.

Traxler’s advice comes as the holiday season approaches. South Carolina saw its worst spike in COVID-19 cases after last year’s winter holidays. The Palmetto State saw its worst day yet in the pandemic on Jan. 6, when more than 7,600 residents tested positive for the virus.

Another factor that may complicate the holiday season is the newly discovered omicron variant, which was first identified in the U.S. Wednesday. Scientists know very little about how transmissible the omicron variant is or how it interacts with the COVID-19 vaccine. Studies into the strain are still under way.

The omicron variant has not yet been identified in South Carolina, Traxler said.

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