SOUTHERN COLORADO — Certain populations are eligible for COVID-19 booster shots. It's something many are considering especially before heading into the holidays and going to family gatherings again.
But there are a lot of questions like, who exactly is eligible for the booster shot? Which shot should you get for your booster shot? And are there any side effects after getting the booster?
Medical experts who work at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment weighed in.
For people who've received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot six months after your initial series of shots: People 65 years and older, people over the age of 18 who live in long-term care settings, people over the age of 18 who have underlying medical conditions, and people over the age of 18 who work or live in high-risk settings.
If you received the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for people 18 and older who were vaccinated two or more months ago.
Zak Van Ooyen, the Clinic Program Manager for the Pueblo Health Department says for your booster shot, you can choose to pick a different brand of the vaccine or get the same one.
"For example, if someone had two Pfizer doses for their primary series, they can either get a Moderna booster dose or a Jansen booster dose. Same thing for Moderna. If they got that as their primary series of shots, they can get Pfizer or Johnson and Johnson," said Van Ooyen.
The Colorado Department of Public Health is now sending text messages to Coloradans who are eligible for the COVID-19 booster. That text message is being sent to more than 1,000,000 people.
Henry Jones received the text message. At 72 years old, he received his booster shot two weeks ago after getting his first round of vaccine shots in May.
"I feel like what I did before the pandemic, before it hit. I'm more back to normal. I'm more secure in being around people now," said Jones, who mentioned he still wears his mask while in public. "I feel more positive we're going in the right direction of people getting the vaccination."
Jennifer Clark, a small business owner in Fountain, also received her booster shot.
"Getting the booster was just as easy as the first and second time. I had mild side affects, but it's definitely worth it so I can spend time with my family who are out of state and my friends who I haven't seen in a while," said Clark. "Last year for the holidays, we just stayed at home, but we're excited this year to travel and we're really looking forward to being around other poeple."
Across the state, 500,000 eligible booster doses have been given.
Dr. Chris Urbina, a medical officer for the Pueblo Health Department, says booster shots are another layer of protection, and they're encouraging people who've had COVID-19 and those who've had the vaccine to get a booster shot.
"We know that immunizations wane over time. We also know that a previous infection wanes over time. Your protecting against both of those," said Dr. Urbina. "That's why we're encouraging people to control transmission still, like washing your hands, coughing in your sleeve, and avoiding large crowds."
Staff with the Pueblo Health Department also say, a booster shot will reduce the spread of the virus and variants that are circulating, and it'll reduce your chances of being hospitalized if you do get the virus. The department is still seeing a significant rise in the number of COVID-19 cases of people who've had the virus before, and those who've been vaccinated.
"The Delta variant has certainly impacted the vaccine effectiveness and it essentially reduces our transmission control by a significant percentage. Having this variant makes tHE vaccine a little less effective and this waning immunity from the vaccine does start to create a gap and that's why we encourage people to get the boosters," said Randy Evetts, the Public Health Director for the Pueblo Health Department.
Heading into the holidays, health experts and people in the community both say the booster shotS becoming eligible for the general population will be yet another layer of protection.
Medical experts say whenever you get a vaccine or a booster shot, your immune system will respond. Your body may ache or you may have a sore arm after. If you had severe reactions or mild reactions for your first round of shots, your symptoms with the booster will be similar.