Sophia Brady / Gavel Media

Booster Shots: A Luxury for the Wealthy

In October, Boston College students who signed up to receive a flu shot also received a surprising proposition when they arrived at the clinic: they could get a COVID booster shot if it had been at least 6 months past the date of their second dose. Many were eager to receive the dose, even if they weren’t sure whether they qualified for this immunization. Not a month after the FDA first authorized the booster dose, students were lining up to build up their immune systems.

According to the CDC, there are currently parameters that make someone eligible for receiving the booster shot. If a person received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago, they are eligible as long as they are 18 years or older. However, for people who received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, the guidelines are much more specific. Anyone above the age of 65 can receive the booster dose six months after their second dose. Anyone above the age of 18 can receive the booster if they either live in long term care facilities, have underlying medical conditions, or work or live in high risk settings. 

In October, it seemed as if anyone who signed up for the flu shot clinic and was past 6 months of their final COVID vaccine dose was able to get the booster. The administration, shortly after the initial round of doses, released a statement detailing more opportunities for vaccinations. Douglas Comeau announced, “Boston College will offer four COVID-19 vaccination booster clinics during the first two weeks of November.” Students were able to sign up online, causing the limited spots to fill up quickly without confirming whether these students were actually eligible. College campuses are often the breeding ground for easily spread diseases and viruses, so the introduction of the booster shots may have positive effects towards preventing another outbreak on campus.

Other schools such as Boston University have also implemented opportunities to receive booster shots. However, they are only offering doses to “800 eligible members of the BU community,” a limited number compared to the variety of slots available for BC students currently. The rival school also claims to only be allowing those that are eligible to receive the booster shot, but it is uncertain whether this statement accurately represents who will be receiving these doses within the student body. 

The disparity between colleges with regard to who can receive a COVID booster mirrors the global trend. Although the spread of a booster shot across the United States is important to preserving the health and safety of everyone, the access to COVID immunity is unevenly distributed. In most cases, it is often the less wealthy countries that are forced to suffer without any protection while more powerful nations receive ample resources and supplies. The institutions most to blame for this are the companies in charge of manufacturing the vaccines. Both Pfizer and Moderna “have not made any agreements to transfer their technology and increase supplies of vaccines in low income countries.” Simply put, these corporations are only willing to help out countries that are able to pay, which is a privilege many citizens in the United States fail to realize. Across the board, equitable access to vaccines is necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19 around the world--even if it means the wealthy have to wait a little longer to get their booster shot.

S(he) be(lie)ve(d)