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Surgeon General Just Said When You'd Get Your Booster

They will be “boosting people who are at their eight month mark after their second dose.”
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Certain Americans will be eligible for a COVID vaccine booster shot come September 20th, and more after that. Why? The vaccines' protection declines, say experts, and with the more transmissible Delta variant stalking those vulnerable, it's more important than ever to protect yourself. So when is it the best time to get yours and how can you keep yourself safe? Surgeon General Vivek Murthy appeared on CNN with 7 life-saving pieces of advice. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


Surgeon General Said Your Vaccine Protection is "Declining"

Doctor holding Pfizer Biontech vaccine against coronavirus COVID disease

Not everyone needs to run out and get a booster, says Murthy. "The protection that we see from the vaccines against the worst of COVID hospitalization, severe disease, in depth that remains strong," he says. "And that is why people who are fully vaccinated today should still feel good. It's why we don't think you need to go out and get a booster today. But using our clinical judgment, our feeling is that this trend in declining in protection will continue over the months ahead and may extend actually to a reduction in protection against those severe outcomes. And that's what we want to be ahead of. And that's why yesterday we announced a plan on September 20th to start boosting people who are at their eight month mark after their second dose. And this will be contingent on the FDA's full review of the safety and efficacy of that third dose, as well as the CDC advisory committees review and recommendations."


Surgeon General Says Here's How the Boosters Will Roll Out

Check-in for coronavirus vaccination against Covid-19 with doctor in the background.

"It starts number one, with communicating with people to let them know there's a plan in advance. We need to think about when to boost, but we had also said to people, when we see a signal, we will tell you, and that's what yesterday was." The announcement about boosters—"it was making good on that commitment. The other things that we're going to be doing over the next few weeks is working closely with state and local partners and just set up and the right distribution mechanisms. Thankfully, we already have so much of that infrastructure set up more than 80,000 pharmacies with vaccine. We have more and more doctor's offices around the country that are carrying vaccine and can deliver them to patients. We have experienced setting up mobile units and other infrastructure to make access easy."


Surgeon General Said Here's How You'll Be Prioritized

Nurse with face mask sitting at home with senior woman and injecting covid 19 vaccine.

"We're going to work also on ensuring that this is done in an equitable way. We've already laid out a pathway through which the most vulnerable people will get vaccinated first. The people who in fact began our vaccination effort, the elderly, healthcare workers, and particularly those in long-term care facilities, those individuals, will be prioritized based on their anniversary schedule."

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Dr. Murthy Said Here's Who's Being Hospitalized

adult male in face mask receiving treatment at hospital suffering respiratory disease lying on bed

"The protection against hospitalization and death remains high if you're fully vaccinated, but that is not 100%," said Murthy. "So are there going to be individuals who have breakthroughs and in some rare cases, even breakthrough hospitalizations and death, yes. That will happen with any vaccine, but thankfully, it is far more rare compared to the deaths and hospitalizations that are happening among the unvaccinated, which tells us the vaccines are still working at the highest level. We need to make sure that continues to be the case. We wanted people to know that the protection they had today from the vaccines will be there tomorrow. And that's the purpose of the boosters."

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Surgeon General Said Here's When He Thought Vaccines for Those Under 12 Would be Approved

Child with face mask getting vaccinated

"That depends a bit on how the trials go and how quickly the companies get the data to the FDA," said Murthy. "But once they do that, I can tell you this, the COVID-19 vaccine reviews are the top priority for the FDA, and they will move quickly to make sure that a thorough review is done, but that it's done on the fastest feasible time schedule, because we all want to protect our kids. You know, I've got kids under 12 who are not vaccinated because they're not eligible yet. I want a vaccine for my children as well. They just want to make sure that that's done in a way that people are assured that these vaccines are in fact safe and effective for their kids. So again, as soon as they get the data from the companies and the trials are underway, they will review it. It is possible that we may have vaccines for under 12 before the end of the calendar year. That's certainly what I'm hoping for."

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Dr. Murthy Said This About Kids in Schools

Girl with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown.

"When it comes to our schools, I think there's nothing more important than keeping our children safe and that's gotta be our top priority," he said. "We've got to use science and public health to guide us in that. And what the science tells us clearly is a few things. It tells us that if our kids are old enough to be vaccinated, that that's a powerful pathway to reduce their chances of getting sick or spreading to others. It tells us also that masks work to reduce the spread of infection. The science tells us that tried and true methods by contact tracing like isolation and quarantine when required, uh, like improved ventilation, regular testing. These are all the layers of precaution that we can take to reduce the risk to our children. And when we know that when the science directs us to that, those are the kinds of measures we should be putting in place." He worries about "the places that counties and estates, where schools are being blocked from taking evidence-based scientific prevention measures, because we have a moral obligation to follow the science and keep our children safe, because it's not just about our child's health is about the kid health of the other kids in the school. We do not want our kids getting sick, but we also don't want them putting other children at risk. We've got to take a community approach to this about a recognize that we gotta get through this together, take care of each other. And the scientific public health approaches have shown us that, uh, the best way to do that is to follow these layers of precaution that we've been talking about for the last many months."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Brunette woman wearing a KN95 FPP2 mask.

Follow the public fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek