Minnesota doctor urges COVID-19 booster shots before holiday gatherings

This year, the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays coincide with the six-month mark for many people who got the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines this spring. 

If you are one of those people and plan on celebrating with friends and family Dr. George Morris, physician incident commander for COVID-19 response at St. Cloud-based CentraCare, says it's time to schedule a COVID-19 booster shot.  

"When you get vaccinated, your immune response - you could call it highway speed, is 60 miles an hour. Over time that speed gradually comes down...we know now for many people that it's dropping down to 20 or 30 miles per hour. We need the boost to get it back up to speed," said Morris. 

Across the state, the latest data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to be at levels we haven't seen since Christmas of 2020, but Morris says the total number of breakthrough cases is still less than 2%. He says breakthrough cases can be blamed on three things: the COVID-19 Delta variant, vaccine hesitancy and changing habits around crowds, certain activities and attending events.

At CentraCare hospitals, the average age of fully vaccinated patients hospitalized with breakthrough cases of COVID-19 is 77, but the average age of the unvaccinated is 57. 

"For the ones that we have that have been vaccinated, those breakthrough cases, they tend to be older, and they tend to have a longer time since their first series," said Morris, who believes this underlines why booster shots are needed to slow the pandemic. 

If you got the Johnson and Johnson one-dose vaccine, the wait time between your first single shot and a booster is just two months. 

For more information on booster shots and who is eligible, click here.