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People not getting booster shots as quickly as anticipated

According to the CDC, only about 30% of the population is fully vaccinated with a booster shot.

MIDLAND, Texas — The message from the medical community continues to push people to get vaccinated and get their booster shots. 

It's a tall task considering that there's a large number of people who are still on the fence about getting vaccinated in the first place.

According to the CDC, only about 30 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated and received a booster shot. That is far short of the about 62 percent of the population that is fully vaccinated without a booster shot.

Russell Meyers, president and CEO of Midland Memorial Hospital, believes there could be several factors contributing to that.

"I would say that you know people feel pretty well protected by the first two shots. The booster has seemed optional. I think that for most folks it does take a little bit of effort to get it, and so I’m not sure it’s a whole lot more than that," Meyers said.

Add to that the unknowns about the omicron variant of COVID-19 that might also be a contributing factor.

"I'm sure that's the case. We certainly will be burdened by a lack of clear foundational knowledge here for a little while as this is still relatively new, so sure I would imagine it would. The uncertainty is probably adding to that challenge," Meyers said.

With the new omicron variant spreading, one that appears to spread easier than that of the delta variant, Meyers believes that being fully vaccinated with a booster shot is the best way to protect yourself..

"One thing that I think we'll be emphasizing, and I think you’ll hear emphasized by the CDC and others in the coming days, is that being fully vaccinated plus a booster is looking like the best protection against the new omicron variant. So I’m hopeful that it’ll get some traction and will encourage some more people to get vaccinated further," Meyers said.

According to Meyers, the CDC told him and other health care leaders that natural immunity might not be enough against the omicron variant.

"I think the most interesting thing I heard today was that people who have acquired some immunity from a prior infection but have no vaccination are 3 to 5 times more likely to get sick with the omicron variant than they were with any other variants," Meyers said.

He also believes the booster along with being fully vaccinated is the best way to prevent another surge of cases in the Midland-Odessa area.

"If we’re gonna hold this thing off and avoid another big surge, the best single thing you can do is go get vaccinated," Meyers said.