EDITORIAL: Do your part and get vaccinated

Sep. 14—New bivalent boosters are here.

We encourage everyone to do their part and get the updated vaccine.

The latest COVID-19 boosters include components of the original virus strain as well as the omicron subvariants now dominant in the Joplin area and most of the country. The omicron's subvariant accounts for 89% of all current U.S. infections.

To be eligible for the bivalent booster, you must have received your primary two-shot vaccinations.

The vaccines provide protection against a severe illness, hospitalization and even death. Remember, several hundred people continue to die daily from mutated versions of the original coronavirus in the U.S., according to the CDC., and thousands more are still being hospitalized around the country.

Getting one is as simple as making a phone call. The Jasper County Health Department announced last week on social media that it has received the new boosters and is scheduling appointments.

Or, go to https://www.vaccines.gov/search.

The shots are available at area pharmacies, stores, clinics and many other places around the region. It is as easy as going to their websites and clicking on "Schedule Now," in one instance.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following recommendations:

—People ages 6 months through 4 years should get all COVID-19 primary series doses.

—People ages 5 years and older should get all primary series doses, and the booster dose recommended for them by CDC, if eligible.

—People ages 5 years to 11 years are currently recommended to get the original (monovalent) booster.

—People ages 12 years and older are recommended to receive one updated Pfizer or Moderna (bivalent) booster. This includes people who have received all primary series doses and people who have previously received one or more original (monovalent) boosters.

At this time, people aged 12 years to 17 years can only receive the updated Pfizer bivalent booster.

We agree with Joplin resident Michael Gregory, who told us recently: "The boosters are crucial to maintaining the general health of the world's population, ... We can't let our guard down."

Gregory is right.

COVID-19 is still a threat and one we must continue to take seriously.

We can't let our guard down.

What we can do is call our pharmacies, our doctors, our health departments and take the next step.