Doctors urge more people to get boosted; say there’s still time to do it for Mardi Gras.

Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 6:20 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Doctors urge more Louisiana residents to get COVID-19 booster shots because COVID-19 has not disappeared.

As the New Orleans area heads into a big carnival season weekend, less than 40% of vaccinated Louisianans have received COVID-19 booster shots.

Dr. Fred Lopez is an LSU Health infectious diseases expert.

“And Louisiana is no different than a lot of the United States. In fact, only about 42% of those eligible in the United States for a booster dose have gotten their extra shot, so we are in some ways similar to the rest of the country in not really attaining booster rates that we would like to attain,” said Lopez.

The Louisiana Department of Health said this week that only 37% of the 2.4 million people who are fully vaccinated in the state have been boosted.

Lopez says boosters are very important amid the ongoing pandemic.

“We know based on recent data from the CDC that the vaccine is about 91% effective in preventing hospitalization two months after a booster and 78% after four months and that’s compared to 58% in people who’ve only received two doses or are fully vaccinated, so the booster doses work, we know they work against Omicron; they appear to be effective against the Omicron sub-variant that we’re talking about recently as well,” said Lopez.

State Health Officer Dr. Joe Kanter addressed the booster shot numbers earlier this week.

“We still have a lot of work to do with boosters, so of the 2.4 million Louisianans who are fully vaccinated only 37% of them are boosted right now,” he said.

Lopez agrees with the CDC’s updated recommendation that people who were vaccinated with the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines get boosted after five months instead of six months.

“I do and that is the current recommendation from the CDC, is to get your booster five months after you’ve finished your initial fully-vaccinated series,” said Lopez.

People who got the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine can get boosted after two months.

Lopez and State Epidemiologist Theresa Sokol agree that vaccinated people still have time to get booster shots before Mardi Gras.

“Folks, if you’re not, if folks are not boosted yet there’s still time for a booster dose to really confer a lot of good additional protection, so that’s another step people can take in advance of the upcoming Mardi Gras activities,” said Sokol.”

Lopez said, “Two weeks after the booster shot is when you can assume you’ve reached the immunity levels that we’re striving for after booster doses, so you still have time.”

And he said COVID will not roll away as the Mardi Gras floats do. He said the virus will still be around and it is important that people not only get vaccinated but boosted.

“COVID-19 is still going to be present after Mardi Gras, in fact, it may be present in some greater numbers with so many people coming into town and being close to one another, some of whom will be infected,” said Lopez.

52% of Louisiana’s general population is fully vaccinated and Dr. Lopez says that is not enough.

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