ST. LOUIS — Right now, every American 12 and older can get a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Those 18 and older can also get a Moderna booster.
However, not everyone is taking advantage and getting that extra shot.
After five months, immunity from the COVID-19 vaccine could wane down.
That's why Washington University infectious disease specialist Dr. Steven Lawrence said you need a boost.
"Getting that booster is important to bring that protection level back up over 90% again for severe illness," Dr. Lawrence said.
Also waning down? The urge to get that extra dose.
Statewide, 53.5% have the two-dose vaccination regime with 36% of Missourians boosted.
Boosters got up to about 32% in 10 weeks, but in the last three weeks, it's only gone up a total of about 4%.
At Ladue Pharmacy, numbers have lagged, too:
- November: 420 boosters
- December: 900 boosters
- Through Jan. 13: 156 boosters
If you are on the fence about getting a booster dose, SLU infectious disease specialist Dr. Jo-Ann Jose said the proof is in the numbers.
"If you are vaccinated and you're eligible for a booster, please get boosted as soon as possible," she said. "The reason that we tell you to do that is that the numbers do not lie about what the situation is right now."
The numbers reflect this.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force's data combines figures from the four major health systems: BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health, St. Luke’s Hospital.
In a new record on Thursday, the seven-day moving average of hospitalizations increased to 1,304.
Of the 1,267 hospitalized COVID patients in the three reporting task force hospital systems, 435 were fully vaccinated. That’s 34% of the patient population.
Only 2% of the hospitalized patients were boosted.
The data is similar to the Jefferson County data.
"We had 2,806 cases in one week and that’s the highest we’ve ever reported since March 2020," Brianne Zwiener, spokesperson for the Jefferson County Health Department, said.
Out of those numbers, 30% were fully vaccinated and 6.5% were boosted.
Of the 48% of folks vaccinated there, 15% have gotten the booster.
"It seems to be, some folks say, 'I had two. I don’t know if I need another,'" Zwiener said.
But getting that extra layer of protection could help health care systems.
"A very large surge of patients have really made our hospitals very full and also operating with short staff because a lot of hospital employees are also out with COVID, just like everybody else in the community," Dr. Lawrence said.
It is added pressure to an already exhausted staff.
"I will say that this is a particularly difficult time for health care workers," Dr. Jose said. "I think that health care workers have gone through the last two years surge after surge, giving everything they have. We are decimated and pummeled as a population."
Getting that booster could impact communities, too.
"Even if it is possible to get a breakthrough infection, which I think we have seen with Omicron is possible, it is still giving your protection against severe illness hospitalization and death," Dr. Jose said.