Seattle researcher calls on CDC to cut wait time for booster in wake of omicron

SEATTLE — A top Seattle researcher is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to cut the wait time for a booster shot from six to three months as the omicron variant begins to spread.

Although the variant has not been confirmed in Washington state, experts agree it is only a matter of time and that has people rushing to get a booster shot.

People in western Washington are starting to pay attention as the omicron variant is beginning to appear in more states.

“We just have to do what we can do to help everybody. We got to get on the bandwagon, otherwise, we’re going to be up a creek without a paddle, again,” one Seattleite said.

The state Department of Health said nearly 400,000 people in King County and more than a million people statewide have received a booster shot.

“Get vaccinated and get boosted,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Now there is a call to open boosters to more people.

Dr. Ali Mokdad with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington wants the CDC to follow the lead of the United Kingdom, where people can get boosters three months after their second dose — instead of six months.

“Three months is already your immunity went down and suddenly when you get a booster it suddenly goes up really high,” Mokdad said.

Mokdad said this is especially important with the holidays approaching.

“It’s very hard for us to tell the American public and people in our state not to travel, not to be around your family, so we need to protect them and that best way to protect them right now is to get them a booster.”

Healthy people who have not gotten a booster shot are being recruited for a new UW study testing what could be the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines. The Gritstone booster is designed to get an immune response to multiple virus proteins, not just what’s covered by the current shots.

The goal of the booster is to create a longer-lasting vaccine with broader protection to cover more variants.

“We don’t know if these vaccines work, we hope they do and that’s why we’re doing this study,” said Dr. Tia Babu with UW.

The researchers are especially looking for people over the age of 60 to participate in the trial.

Doctors are pushing for people to get the current vaccines because emerging research from South Africa indicates that people who had COVID-19 are not immune to the new variant.