Nearly 6 months after the vaccine was made available in the US we are still battling the variants of SARS-CoV-2 as we have failed to reach the threshold for herd immunity. In order to deal with the new strains, the CDC is considering the recommendation of booster shots. While some are eager to receive the booster in order to remain protected from mutated variants, it is important to assess the implication it will have for populations that have yet to see a first dose.
Before the vaccine was available to the public it was obvious that distribution would be unequal. Yet, wealthier countries like the US and UK bought up the supply with no regard for vaccine count in other countries. Additionally, with the amount of vaccine hesitancy administering booster shots will not have the effect it’s intended to. There is a large possibility that it will be more detrimental as half the US population will receive their booster, the other half will continue to remain unvaccinated, and large masses will continue to vacation to countries with unvaccinated populations, potentially exposing them to an even worse variant.
The US should be figuring out how to vaccinate its currently unvaccinated population as well as assisting with vaccine distribution to the rest of the world. Social media, foreign influence, and conspiracy theories have hindered the credibility of public health officials and furthered the global health crisis. We must address the root cause of vaccine hesitancy which stems from people’s distrust in government and medical authority. Additionally, the lack of similarities in messages from different health organizations and agencies has forced the public into feeling like it is their responsibility to make decisions for their personal health rather than the responsibility of actual medical professionals.
Ultimately, given the context of today’s vaccine supply constraints, the focus should be on increasing global vaccination rates for first and second doses. The administration of booster doses will undoubtedly exacerbate current inequities with wealthy countries increasing demand and consuming and already scarce supply.
Image Source: Southern Nevada Health District