The Food and Drug Administration approved updated Pfizer and Moderna boosters that are adapted to the Omicron variant last month, but less than half of people who are eligible for the booster have received it.
“The Boston Public Health Commission strongly encourages residents to protect themselves now by staying up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations to ensure that they have the broadest level of protection possible for the holiday season and wintertime when they will be spending more time gathering indoors,” wrote a BPHC spokesperson in an email.
The updated boosters became available in Boston the week of Sept. 5, but residents have mixed feelings surrounding it.
“I don’t know much about the new booster,” Sam Salerno, a Boston resident, said. “I just heard that they came out with another one. I’ve sort of lost track at this point.”
Not only have people been left without information, but their mindsets have changed, too.
“A lot of people think COVID has kind of gone away, which of course it hasn’t, and won’t,” Boston visitor David Artale said. “So, obviously, a lot of people have let their guard down, whether it’s masking or boosting or just general practices.”
The city of Boston has had a 37.7% increase in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks as of Sept. 19, and a 24% increase in COVID-19 related hospitalizations over the past two weeks as of Sept. 22, according to BPHC.
“I noticed that a lot of people don’t wear their masks on the train, which, it’s not required, but it is a little bit scary sometimes,” said TJ Taylor, a student at Emerson College. “You don’t know if they’re sick or not.”
The BPHC said people should stay updated on their vaccines as well as following typical COVID-19 protection procedures, such as wearing a mask indoors and staying home when ill.
“I think just having more access to testing, especially for all walks of life … is very important,” said Anne O’Leary, a student at Emerson.
Flu shots are also being distributed as the city of Boston advocates for citizens to get vaccinated against influenza early in the season.