Shortly after LSU’s vaccine mandate at the start of the semester, the Centers for Disease Control approved booster shots for the three currently approved vaccines.
The purpose of the vaccine booster is to increase the levels of antibodies within a person’s immune system when their levels from the original vaccine dosages decrease, LSU Biology professor Hollie Hale-Donze explained.
“The vaccine is like creating a game plan and having football practice to prepare for a real game,” Hale-Donze said. “A booster shot is like the coach concerned that the defense is getting a little tired and is worried that they might get scored upon too easily. So they go over the game plan again, adjusting the plays to make them more effective.”
Put simply, “A booster shot perks up your immune system to keep it alert,” Hale-Donze explained. A booster is similar to the annual flu shot, which increases your body’s resistance to an ever changing flu strain.
The question now is whether or not LSU will mandate these booster shots for its students and faculty.
The university plans to “follow the guidelines provided by the Louisiana Department of Health” regarding vaccine boosters, according to LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard.
“We are encouraging those eligible to receive a booster to receive one,” Ballard said. “But keep in mind that ‘fully vaccinated’ means someone received Johnson and Johnson or both doses of Pfizer or Moderna.”
Despite increasing an immune system’s antibody count to combat the virus, the booster shot is intended, at the current moment, to be administered to higher-risk individuals or those who will come in contact with high-risk individuals.
“If you have a weakened immune system to begin with, your immune response may not be optimal to protect you against serious illness, so a third shot has been shown to increase those antibodies in this population of individuals,” Hale-Donze said.
According to the CDC, the groups most advised to receive the vaccine booster include:
- Individuals 65 years and older
- Individuals 18 years and older living in long-term care settings
- Individuals 18 years and older who have underlying medical conditions
- Individuals 18 years and older who work or live in high-risk settings
However, these guidelines are only recommended for those who took the two-dose vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna. For individuals who received Johnson and Johnson, “it is recommended that everyone over 18 get a booster because this was a single shot vaccine,” Hale-Donze said.
“You don’t have to get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine again; you can elect to get either of the two dose vaccines,” Hale-Donze said. “The best advice is to talk to your health care provider about getting boosters or any vaccine.”