Why should I get a booster if I might get COVID anyway? 

Most everyone knows someone who is sick or has recently had COVID since the extremely contagious Omicron variant started to spread. And it’s possible that someone you know has had COVID even if they got a booster shot. So at this point, you might be thinking: “Why should I get a booster if I might get COVID anyway?”

It’s a valid question – and the feelings of frustration, anger and exhaustion that many of us are feeling are completely understandable.

But while it’s possible to get infected even if you’ve had a booster, booster shots are very effective where it matters most: they help prevent severe illness, the kind that fills up hospital beds and leads to death. And that’s why it’s still important to get that booster.

“COVID-19 levels and risk in the community remains very high and likely will be for weeks,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “And, hospitals will continue to experience serious stress for weeks even after cases and new hospitalizations drop. Everyone can help our hospitals and healthcare workers right now be able to take care of us when we need them: get vaccinated and boosted and take other steps to prevent COVID-19.

“In the last month, people who were not fully vaccinated were 11 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 17 times more likely to die than those fully vaccinated. Vaccines are working extremely well to reduce serious infections, but boosters are critical for the best protection against hospitalization, death and against multiple variants. Even after you have had a COVID infection, vaccination and boosters will provide increased protection.”

As of mid-January, about 46% of King County residents eligible for a booster have gotten one. That leaves over 1 million people in our county who are still eligible, but not yet boosted. We all benefit from this important protection as getting boosted helps to stop community spread and protects the healthcare system.

If you’re uncertain about getting a booster shot, here are reasons why it’s still incredibly valuable — yes, despite Omicron.

1. Boosters maximize your protection against COVID-19, including the Omicron variant. 

The first doses of COVID-19 vaccines provide protection, but that immunity fades over time. Getting a booster extends the protection.

Researchers found that Pfizer and Moderna boosters provide significantly more protection against Omicron compared to just 2 doses of the vaccine.

One recent study found that a booster dose of vaccine was 92% effective at protecting against hospitalization from Omicron and remains high at 83% at ten weeks after the booster dose. Another recent Danish study found that a third dose of either Pfizer or Moderna provided a “significant increase” in protection against Omicron.

2. Yes, you may get COVID. But having had a booster means you won’t get as sick. 

Boosters help people have fewer symptoms and milder disease than they would have without it. They may have a shorter illness. And many people who might have otherwise gotten sick will not have any illness after getting a booster.

A video of a text conversation between two friends.

3. Boosters help keep people out of the hospital – saving that spot for someone  else who needs immediate care. 

Every day hospitals are busy with people needing urgent care for heart attacks, accidents and injuries, and other emergencies. On top of that, COVID-19 related hospitalizations have increased by 75% in recent weeks. Along with staffing shortages, that means that some people can’t find an available hospital bed when they need it.

When you get a booster, you likely won’t need to seek healthcare and even if you get sick, you can likely manage it at home. By getting a booster, we can help reduce the number of people going to the hospital and lessen the burden on our healthcare workers.

4. Boosters help prevent community spread. 

Boosters improve the safety of others, in addition to protecting you. Anyone who gets infected after having the booster will be less contagious than if they hadn’t gotten it. This is why the CDC has different quarantine guidance for those that are “up-to-date” on their vaccine series versus those that are not. When you get a booster, you do your part to help stop the spread of the virus.

5. Breakthroughs will happen. Boosters will reduce your risk. 

Some folks who get a booster will still get ill, and this is true of any vaccine — there are always breakthrough cases.

But there are many steps you can take – like getting a booster, distancing and wearing the highest-quality mask you can – that better your chances of staying healthy.

“You want to increase the likelihood of your own safety as much as possible,” says Dr. James Lewis, Medical Epidemiologist for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

The bottom line, says Lewis: “Getting a booster increases your own safety, the safety of your family and the safety of your broader community.”

Boosters and vaccinations are plentiful as drop-in or scheduled appointments at vaccination sites in Auburn, West Seattle, Rainier Beach, and Shoreline. For more information and additional locations: kingcounty.gov/vaccine

Originally posted January 20, 2022