Why Teachers Should Get COVID Booster Shots

teacher booster shots
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Educators should get their booster COVID shots, says Howard Forman, MD, MBA, from The Yale School of Public Health. 

“If there is a medical reason to not get a booster at this time, I would encourage them to wear an N95 mask to protect themselves and the people around them,” he says. “Even with a booster, wearing the N95 mask is helpful.” 

The CDC now advises everyone 12 and older who received two doses of Pfizer vaccine to get a booster after at least 5 months and everyone 18 and older who received two doses of the Moderna vaccine to get a booster after at least 5 months as well. Adults who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine are advised to get a Pfizer or Moderna booster after at least two months. 

Increasing Evidence for Booster Efficacy

In November, only adults over 65 were advised by the CDC to get boosted while those under 65 who worked in occupations that put them at higher risks for contracting the virus, a group that includes educators, were given the option of getting a booster shot. At that time, Forman told Tech & Learning that younger and healthy educators could reasonably hold off on getting a booster, but the rise of Omicron and new data around boosters has emerged. 

“The boosters have performed very well,” Forman says. “If you are older or have a comorbid condition, you are putting yourself at high unnecessary risk by delaying boosters.” 

Forman cites recent research from the CDC showing the efficacy of boosters and preventing severe disease. “They reduce risk of hospitalization, of ED visits, and urgent care encounters,” he says. 

A Particular Need for Boosters for Educators & No Reason to Wait 

Diego R. Hijano, MD, MSc, an infectious disease specialist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, told Tech & Learning in November that older teachers and those with underlying conditions should get their boosters, as well as younger teachers with good health. “As a teacher you're exposed to a lot of kids who may or may not be vaccinated, depending on what grade you teach, and even if you teach high school, depending on where you work in the U.S., anywhere from 30 percent to 80 percent of your kids won't be vaccinated.” 

“Everyone should be getting a booster shot,” Gigi Kwik Gronvall, PhD, an immunologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Tech & Learning in November. 

Some people have theorized that delaying the vaccine might actually increase the efficacy of a third dose. Gronvall said that holding off does not make sense. “I don’t know why you would wait,” she says. “You are hoping to forestall serious infections now. If it turns out we need to be boosted every six months, so be it, but people should take advantage of the ability to get the booster now.”

Erik Ofgang

Erik Ofgang is a Tech & Learning contributor. A journalist, author and educator, his work has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Smithsonian, The Atlantic, and Associated Press. He currently teaches at Western Connecticut State University’s MFA program. While a staff writer at Connecticut Magazine he won a Society of Professional Journalism Award for his education reporting. He is interested in how humans learn and how technology can make that more effective.