Meritus Health Encourages COVID-19 Boosters in New “We All Need a Boost” Public Health Campaign

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As Meritus Health team members endure their twenty-second month of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new public health campaign is being launched to encourage the community to make informed decisions about boosters.

“We All Need a Boost” helps show the importance of the additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine, as well as the positive impact on community health experienced as vaccination rates rise locally.

“During the past several weeks, we’ve continued to see a steady uptick of community members testing positive for COVID-19 and of patients experiencing symptoms so serious, they require hospitalization,” says Dr. Aaron George, chief medical officer for Meritus Health. “We’ve also noticed another trend with numbers – both with people testing positive and with people needing hospital care – where the statistics continue to paint a clear picture that as this virus mutates, booster shots are providing the protection needed to prevent spread and serious illness.”

Dr. George sites two recent figures – positivity rates of patients using the Meritus COVID-19 drive-thru testing site, broken down by vaccination status and Meritus Medical Center hospitalizations organized in the same manner. Both data sets show nearly the same outcome: Between 92-93% of people who are either testing positive or requiring hospitalization are either not vaccinated at all or have not received a vaccine within the last six months.

Of 1,130 positive cases tested at the drive-thru site off Crayton Boulevard last week, 81% were unvaccinated and 11% were more than six months since their last vaccination.

“In other words, 92% of the positive cases were either unvaccinated or hadn’t been recently vaccinated or boosted,” says Dr. George.

Data from Meritus Medical Center supports the same conclusion:

  • 86% not vaccinated
  • 7% had a vaccine greater than six months before admission
  • 93% combined had no vaccine or a vaccine greater than six months before admission.

“The COVID-19 booster helps to protect your immunity to COVID-19,” says Dr. George. “Over time, protection that you received from your initial vaccine decreases and the booster shot helps to ‘boost’ your immunity to COVID-19, especially as different variants develop.”

Across the country, people are generally having fewer and milder reactions after their third dose and will be 92% less likely to get sick or need hospital care.

“If you experienced side effects following your initial doses, you could feel something similar again when receiving a third shot, but it should be less severe,” he explained. “This is because your body and immune system have already developed a blueprint to fight the virus and this just gives your body more practice or a reminder about how to do it best.”

Dr. George understands that the community may need clarity on who should receive the COVID-19 booster.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently defines “fully vaccinated” as receiving two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna product or one of the Johnson and Johnson. Initially “third doses” were recommended for moderately-to-severely immunocompromised patients, as least 28 days after the completion of the initial mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series. After that, “booster” doses were approved – a supplemental vaccine dose given to people when the immune response to a primary vaccine series is likely to have waned over time. Moderna’s booster is a smaller dose than the original formula.

“We continue to learn more everyday about how to care for COVID-19 patients and how this virus spreads,” says Dr. George. “We’ve seen so many people – mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, aunts, friends – die. We’ve also seen hope manifested in opportunity to share information with our community, so they can make choices to keep well. We all need this boost, not only the additional vaccine to protect us, but that we ease this continued burden of the pandemic.”

After the 660 days consecutively trying to combat the virus, “our teams, simply put, are worn out,” says Dr. George. “Getting your booster ultimately gives our teams a boost as it will reduce the number of patients who need hospital care and the strain on resources we continue to feel at the hospital. Please protect yourself and consider helping us.”

Meritus Health continues to offer a vaccine clinic at the Robinwood Professional Center atrium. Adults and eligible 16 and 17-year-olds may walk in between the hours of 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Adults may schedule appointments through the MyChart patient portal and eligible teens by emailing