Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

COVID-19 Booster Effectiveness Remained High During Omicron Surge

Image of Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Mary Ashcraft, assigned to the combat ship USS Tulsa, administers a COVID-19 vaccine booster to Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Anthony Johnson Jan. 10, 2022, at Apra Harbor, Guam. (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class Devin M. Langer, Command Destroyer Squadron 7). Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Mary Ashcraft, assigned to the combat ship USS Tulsa, administers a COVID-19 vaccine booster to Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Anthony Johnson Jan. 10, 2022, at Apra Harbor, Guam. (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class Devin M. Langer, Command Destroyer Squadron 7)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Active-duty service members who received a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot were significantly less likely to be infected and show symptoms of the disease during the surge of the Omicron variant this winter, according to a recent study. 

The study highlights the effectiveness of booster shots, which were first formally recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in November. 

“The findings support the policy of booster doses at five months after the primary series and show improved vaccine effectiveness with a booster dose even during times of a newly emerging SARS-CoV-2 variant,” said Shauna Stahlman. She is a senior epidemiologist in the Epidemiology and Analysis Branch of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division

But a separate study also found that the number of active-duty service members who were voluntarily getting booster shots lagged behind the general U.S. population. 

As of Jan. 31, only 24% of active-duty service members who were eligible for a booster had voluntarily received the additional shot, according to Army Col. (Dr.) James Mancuso. Mancuso chairs the Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics Department at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences’ Hebert School of Medicine. His group led the booster uptake study in collaboration with Stahlman and AFHSD. 

By comparison, in the general U.S. population as of Feb. 10, about 46.8% of the booster-eligible population had received the additional shot. “This is likely reflective of [active-duty service members] being a relatively younger and healthier population,” Stahlman said. 

The study found that service members were less likely to get a booster shot if they were younger, lower in rank or had lower education levels. Similar studies of the civilian population show that younger and healthier people have been less likely to seek out vaccines and booster shots. 

Overall, the rate at which service members sought out and received booster shots increased during the surge of infections linked to the Omicron variant beginning in December 2021. Vaccine uptake among active-duty service members also went up in November 2021 after the CDC recommended that all adults get a booster, Stahlman noted. 

The Pentagon mandated initial COVID-19 vaccinations for service members in August 2021. However, booster shots remain voluntary. 

Booster Mandate Coming? 

Stahlman said the study’s findings suggest that “high levels of booster uptake among [active-duty service members] are unlikely to be accomplished on a voluntary basis.” 

In mid-December, the Pentagon said there were “active discussions” within the DOD about making the booster shots mandatory for service members. The Defense Department has not issued any requirement for a booster because the booster doses are only used under emergency authorization. The primary vaccination series (e.g., generally the first two shots) are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Mancuso said that currently, the best way to promote booster vaccination is to encourage service members to discuss their own personal risks of COVID-19 and benefits from getting the booster shot with their primary unit-level health care providers.  

“These providers should be encouraging vaccination due to its benefits to the health of the individual as well as to military readiness and overall the health of the force.” 

FDA’s vaccine advisory committee met April 6 on questions about booster doses. The CDC has not yet scheduled a meeting on the subject of boosters with its advisory group on vaccines. 

Who Didn’t Get Boosted 

The study found that active-duty service members were less likely to get a booster shot if they had a previous COVID-19 infection. Active-duty service members in the U.S. received fewer boosters compared to those stationed overseas. 

Other factors that appeared to result in lower booster uptake were being male and serving in the Marine Corps. 

The study did not find any significant differences in booster shot uptake among different races and ethnicities, as was seen in a previous study of the primary vaccination series. 

Booster Vaccine Effectiveness 

Vaccine effectiveness “was significantly higher” among service members who received a booster shot compared to those who only received the initial vaccination, regardless of the month or time since their primary vaccination, Stahlman said. 

Even during the surge, service members who received a booster shot had 43% to 63% reduced odds of developing symptomatic COVID-19 when compared to those who were vaccinated with the primary series but didn’t receive the booster, according to the study. 

“Our patterns of vaccine effectiveness estimates are generally similar to those observed in the U.S. population and among military veterans,” she added. 

The booster vaccine effectiveness study reviewed military vaccination data for active-duty service members who were tested for SARS-CoV-2 between July 2021 and January 2022. The study evaluated the three existing vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen. 

You also may be interested in...

Future of Nursing: Telehealth, More Innovation and Maybe Some Robots

Article
5/13/2022
Second Lt. Nina Hoskins, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron operating room nurse, briefs Col. Debra Lovette, 81st Training Wing commander, and other base leadership on robotics surgery capabilities inside the robotics surgery clinic at the Keesler Medical Center June 16, 2017. (Photo: Kemberly Groue, U.S. Air Force)

The future of nursing is here due in part to changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

‘I Love the Intensity’ – One Nurse Recalls Three COVID-19 Deployments

Article
5/5/2022
In 2020, Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra, an ICU nurse at the 633rd Medical Group, on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, was deployed to a North Dakota hospital to support a FEMA COVID-19 mission. In the photo, she trains on equipment used for critical patients in a North Dakota ICU. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra)

Nurses are unique, they follow a calling to care for others. Military nurses do that as well as serve their nation. For Nurses Week, the MHS highlights some of their own.

Recommended Content:

Nurses Week Toolkit: United In Service, Rooted in Strength | Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

How One Military Nurse Persevered Through the COVID-19 Response

Article
5/5/2022
Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling, a medical-surgical nurse at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Family Health Clinic, Texas, was deployed to support the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan in 2021. They administered vaccinations to U.S. citizens, service members, and foreign military members as well as supported the preparation to withdraw from the country. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling)

Nurses across the Military Health System have played a vital role in providing routine patient care and meeting the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nurses Week Toolkit: United In Service, Rooted in Strength | Coronavirus | Nursing in the Military Health System

Pandemic Spotlights the Vital Role of Military Lab Workers

Article
5/2/2022
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Solomon, 18th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of microbiology, unloads blood samples from a centrifuge at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 31, 2019. (Photo: Tech. Sgt. Matthew B. Fredericks, U.S. Air Force)

MHS clinical labs produce results.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

Helping Your Child to Cope with Grief and Losses Related to COVID-19

Article
4/28/2022
Shirley Lanham Elementary School students perform Taiko drumming during a Month of the Military Child celebration aboard the Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, April 6, 2022. (Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Ange-Olivier Clement, Naval Air Facility Atsugi)

Many military children have lost loved ones to COVID-19. How parents can help with the grief.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

How to Help Military Children Reconnect After Two Years of the Pandemic

Article
4/25/2022
Airman 1st Class Rocio Romo, Space Launch Delta 30 public affairs specialist, and her son pose for a photo at Cocheo Park on Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, March 25, 2022. During the month of April, we celebrate Month of the Military Child to highlight the sacrifices military children make on the home front while their parents serve the United States. (Photo: Airman Kadielle Shaw, Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs)

How parents can help children stressed by more than two years of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Main Graphic

Infographic
4/21/2022
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Main Graphic

If your military hospital or clinic offers these antiviral treatments as part of the COVID-19 Test to Treat Initiative, use these graphics to promote your services to your beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Treatment

COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Graphic 2

Infographic
4/21/2022
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Graphic 2

If your military hospital or clinic offers these antiviral treatments as part of the COVID-19 Test to Treat Initiative, use these graphics to promote your services to your beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Treatment

8 Tips to Help Kids Adjust to Change during the New Pandemic Phase

Article
4/15/2022
A parent comforts his child while she receives a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 28, 2022. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte, 18th Wing Public Affairs)

Parents should prepare their kids for the new normal of the ongoing pandemic, recognizing that the status of the disease can change quickly as new variants of COVID-19 emerge.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Children's Health

Got Your 6 | April 16, 2022

Video
4/15/2022
Got Your 6 | April 16, 2022

‘Got Your 6’ is TRICARE’s COVID vaccine video series that delivers important information and updates, on days that end in ‘6.’ It includes the latest information about DOD vaccine distribution, the TRICARE health benefit, and vaccine availability. Got a question about ‘Got Your 6’? Send an email to dha.ncr.comm.mbx.dha-internal-communications@mail.mil Find your local military provider at tricare.mil/MTF, or go to tricare.mil/vaccineappointments and schedule yours today!

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Military Medical Officials Back FY 23 Budget Before Senate Appropriations Committee

Article
4/6/2022
Marines with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing take precautionary measures by cleaning and disinfecting their hands during field day on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 20, 2020, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to perform mission-essential tasks. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jaime Reyes)

Military Medical officials, including Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, Defense Health Agency director, back FY 23 Budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee, March 29, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

How COVID-19 Made the Military Medical Community Stronger

Article
3/21/2022
Image of a service member being treated

Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic has made the military medical community stronger and will help when confronting the next crisis, whether that’s another pandemic, a new conflict or natural disaster

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Responses Underscore Importance of Patient Safety

Article
3/14/2022
Every day, patient safety is one of the top priorities for the Defense Health Agency. Patient safety means providing ready, reliable care to service members, veterans, and dependents no matter the circumstances. (Photo: Defense Health Agency)

Patient safety is a topmost concern of MHS, and Patient Safety Awareness Week 2022 focuses on Ready, Reliable Care.

Recommended Content:

Patient Safety | Patient Safety Awareness Week | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Patient Safety Awareness Week

Defense Department Announces Distribution of COVID-19 Tests for Military Beneficiaries

Article
2/25/2022
A Soldier assigned to the Connecticut National Guard helps load a shipment of at-home COVID-19 testing kits into a truck at a regional distribution point in North Haven, Connecticut, Jan. 3, 2022. These kits were picked up by representatives from local towns and municipalities to be handed out to their communities.

The Department of Defense will offer at-home COVID-19 tests for military beneficiaries at military hospitals or clinics, on a supply available basis, in the coming weeks.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | At-Home COVID-19 Tests | Coronavirus

Answering Your Questions About COVID-19 Testing

Article
2/25/2022
Military personnel performing a COVID-19 Test

COVID-19 continues to spread, now as the Omicron variant. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect you and your family from getting seriously ill, getting hospitalized, or dying. You should also make sure you’re up to date with your vaccines. Testing is another important step you can take to protect yourself and others.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | At-Home COVID-19 Tests
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 38
Refine your search
Last Updated: April 18, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.