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Pleas for Booster Shots Ahead of MN Holiday Gatherings


Monday, December 13, 2021   

ROCHESTER, Minn. - This year's Christmas holiday might have more of a traditional feel for Minnesota families than 2020 did. But the state's health-care providers say hospitals remain stretched thin by COVID cases.

That warning has prompted state officials and advocates for older Minnesotans to convey the importance of booster shots leading up to Christmas and New Year's Day.

Matt Mattingly, an AARP volunteer who lives in Rochester, said like most other people, last year's festivities for his family took place over Zoom. This year, they're "boostered up" ahead of an in-person celebration.

"We're fairly comfortable that, as careful as we all are," said Mattingly, "at least getting the four of us together is safe enough."

He said he knows being vaccinated for COVID-19 or following up with a booster shot isn't an easy decision for all people. But for him, it was a simple process with minimal aftereffects.

With new novel coronavirus variants spreading, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now urges all adults to get a booster shot six months after receiving their initial dose.

Cathy McLeer, state director for AARP Minnesota, said with the holidays fast approaching, it's important to keep following the advice of trusted health experts. She noted the key right now is that immunity is waning for people who got their shots in the first wave of vaccinations.

"We know that doctors, medical professionals, health officials, they've all found that COVID vaccines are highly effective at reducing the risk of severe illness," said McLeer. "But that protection does begin to decrease after several months, and boosters can help raise that protection back to a higher level."

McLeer said people can't lose sight that older Minnesotans are among the most vulnerable to COVID. She added communicating with family and friends ahead of a gathering also is important.

"Maybe ask your guests who are coming to your house if they're vaccinated and boosted," said McLeer. "And it still makes sense to take all of those other precautions, too - like masking, social distancing, handwashing."

She said getting tested is another helpful precaution. In Minnesota, officials recommend a booster for anyone age 16 and older.

The health department has information on how to find a booster shot. And AARP has a list of tips on its website.

Disclosure: AARP Minnesota contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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