Editorial: You're vaccinated. Now, go get the booster shot
How many of us eligible for COVID-19 booster shots would gladly give it up if we knew our shot would go to an unvaccinated person?
We suspect plenty would, but alas, it doesn't work that way. Instead, what we can do is double down on our individual commitment to ourselves, our families and public health in general by getting a booster shot when we become eligible.
On Tuesday, the governor's office urged eligible Illinoisans to get COVID-19 booster shots and called on skilled nursing facilities to make them available to patients and staff by Thanksgiving.
The Pfizer boosters have been available since last month; the CDC could approve Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots as early as this week.
For those nearly 6.9 million people in Illinois who have been fully vaccinated, getting the booster is truly a no-brainer. An extra dose of vaccine mobilizes the body's immune system defenses even further. Tests done by Pfizer indicate a booster shot given at least six months after the second vaccine dose produces antibody levels between five and 10 times higher than after two doses.
Moreover, a third dose is likely to give greater protection against as-yet unknown variants of COVID-19.
Even with the "breakthrough" cases -- and the sober understanding that even some vaccinated people will inevitably die of COVID-19 -- it's clear to most of us that the vaccines are a lifesaving tool.
Millions of vaccinated Americans already have committed themselves to the greater good. They are happy to inconvenience themselves to get the booster -- or whatever science and the interests of public health ultimately recommend -- for their own well-being, but also because they understand a fundamental truth: that despite the efficacy of the shots as excellent personal protection, the best protection is living in a vaccinated society.
Community immunity protects us all, especially those among us who cannot be vaccinated because of serious allergies or other conditions, including a tiny group of people who don't have a strong immune response to vaccines.
Millions of lives are saved globally each year because of vaccines. Don't believe us? Talk to any family that was affected by the polio epidemic in the 1950s.
"We've been lucky enough to live with vaccines so long that we often forget how much disease we've prevented," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said this week.
The Kaiser Family Foundation says 90,000 American deaths between June and September this year could likely have been prevented by vaccination.
Enough already. Get the booster, and do your part.