We haven’t seen Vice President Kamala Harris much in recent weeks.
Though that’s not necessarily a bad thing considering her penchants for cringey word salads and embarrassing the United States on a world stage, it doesn’t mean that she’s been completely off the grid.
She’s spent some time here and there on the Twitter machine in November, posting videos and photos of herself, her family, and her visits to other countries and places here at home. But it was a tweet she posted Monday about vaccines that garnered a fair amount of attention, especially after Health and Human Secretary Xavier Becerra posted a related one the following day that seemed to contradict Harris’ message.
“One shot, once a year—that’s all most people will need to stay protected from COVID year-long,” Harris’ tweet read while including a link to vaccines.gov:
One shot, once a year—that’s all most people will need to stay protected from COVID year-long. Make a plan to get your shot at https://t.co/ddwWZdNCgg.
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) November 28, 2022
Becerra’s, on the other hand, suggested to people that if they hadn’t had a shot in over two months that they should go ahead and “get one now” to “help protect you from the worst outcomes of COVID.” The message was directed at people over 50 years old, who the CDC says are the most likely to die from severe cases of the coronavirus:
An updated COVID vaccine can help protect you from the worst outcomes of COVID. If it’s been over 2 months since your last dose, make a plan to get one now.
— Secretary Xavier Becerra (@SecBecerra) November 29, 2022
Yesterday the Vice President @VP told us that a covid booster is good for a year. Today the health secretary is telling us it’s only good for two months. Nobody will tell us its actual benefits or risks.
How can we be expected to believe a word from this administration? https://t.co/391AjtcCZ0
— Sarah Beth Burwick (@sarahbeth345) November 29, 2022
Others noted that getting the vaccine did not protect you from catching it again (though the CDC says it can potentially keep you from having to deal with a severe case), which was not included in Harris’ message, while many who responded to Becerra wondered exactly when the did the every two months thing start.
Instead of listening to either one of them, I went directly to the CDC’s website, where there was more confusing information, and where I was directed to different links much in the way you get transferred from person to person during a phone call to your insurance company or cell phone provider.
One page tells you how to “stay up to date” with the vaccines and boosters, but directs you to another page if you are “moderately or severely immunocompromised.” On that page, it tells you that such people should get “get an extra primary series dose if receiving the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech series” and below that gives drop-down dosage recommendations for kids and adults, and none of them go beyond four doses including the initial two that were heavily promoted in 2021.
As confusing as it all is, the best thing to do is one simple thing: Instead of listening to politicians and other public health officials who give out mixed messages on what they believe you should do – especially those who undermined the vaccine when it was politically convenient and then abruptly changed their tunes after the 2020 election, if you have questions or concerns about the vaccine, consult with your doctor.
It’s just as simple as that.
This should not be construed as medical advice to anyone, but I personally know people over the age of 50 who got the first two Pfizer shots and the first booster but who were advised to skip the second booster dose (the “fourth shot”) because in their respective doctor’s view there was not enough evidence to justify getting another dose. In one case, the doctor told their patient, a senior citizen, that between them surviving COVID and getting the initial two vaccine shots that in his view that provided sufficient protection.
But every person/case is different, which is why the better thing to do in these situations is to talk to a medical professional who you trust and who knows your medical situation about your options. They, not government officials, should be able to point you in the right direction.