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Should you get a COVID booster? Here's what a local Aspirus doctor recommends

Dr. Sonal Chandratre, the Regional Medical Director for Aspirus Medical Group, gets her COVID vaccine.
Sonal Chandratre
Aspirus Medical Group
Dr. Sonal Chandratre, the Regional Medical Director for Aspirus Medical Group, gets her COVID vaccine.

A week since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended people over the age of 18 get a COVID booster dose after their primary vaccine series, health care workers at Aspirus say initial interest in the booster is high.

Dr. Sonal Chandratre is a pediatric endocrinologist and the regional medical director for Aspirus Medical Group.

She says more than 100 people were on waiting lists at Aspirus clinics to get the booster.

She takes that as a good sign, especially amidst the holidays, when COVID hospitalizations and deaths typically rise as people gather to celebrate.

“Any holiday season these days of the pandemic, I just dread it because I start thinking about what will happen two weeks after,” she says.

In the Aspirus system, 73 percent of people currently hospitalized with COVID are not vaccinated.

That’s one reason why Dr. Chandratre says getting the COVID vaccine and booster dose is important.

The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters contain the same ingredients as the initial vaccine series.

The Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson boosters also consist of the same dose as the initial shots, while the Moderna booster is half the original dose.

Dr. Chandratre says the extra dose is needed because antibodies, which fight the virus, go away over time. The booster helps keep them around.

“It’s like the cold. I want to give an analogy to cold weather,” she says. “You’re layered, you have all the necessary warm clothing, but over the months after your COVID vaccine, it’s like taking your outer layer off. But you’re still outside in the cold, so you don’t want to get frostbite.”

She says the booster dose is like putting that outer layer back on.

That’s especially important for people susceptible to severe COVID, like people older than 50, anyone living in a long-term care facility and those who are immunocompromised.

But Dr. Chandratre says the booster can make a difference for younger people too.

While the initial series prevents severe forms of COVID, the booster can prevent even mild effects.

That could have a ripple effect for those planning to spend time with loved ones over the holidays.

“You might be 20 something, but if you are going to meet your granny who is 90, even if you have a milder variant – because you might not even know you have COVID – if you go meet her, she is more likely to contract the disease because of her age,” Dr. Chandratre says. “If she has chronic conditions, her outcome may be worse. So you want to really keep yourself and your family protected this holiday season.”

On Monday, the CDC changed its recommendation that people between the ages of 18 and 50 can get a COVID booster, to they should get a booster.

COVID booster doses are available through Aspirus and at local pharmacies. Many places require an appointment at this time.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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