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COVID-19 | Dec. 7, 2021

New variant on the rise, get boosted now

By Chief Warrant Officer Allyson E.T. Conroy

Since the end of November 2021, there has been a lot of talk about a new coronavirus variant of concern – Omicron. Recently detected, the Omicron variant has quickly spread around the globe, and while public health officials and experts across the U.S. government have been working to learn more about this variant, President Joe Biden announced travel restrictions from impacted countries on Nov. 26, in order to help slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

As a Nation, we are better prepared for this variant than we have been for previous variant because nearly 60% of Americans are now fully vaccinated, and children between the ages of five and 11 are now able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

While it will take approximately two weeks to have more definitive information on the transmissibility, severity, and other characteristics of the variant, public health officials believe that existing COVID-19 vaccines are likely to provide a degree of protection against severe cases, hospitalization, and death from the Omicron variant.

Why Should I get a Booster Shot?

We know the path to controlling the virus and limiting variants: get vaccinated, get boosted, and take your children to get vaccinated.

Everyone 18 years and older in the United States is now able to receive a COVID-19 booster shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), studies show that once vaccinated against COVID-19, “protection against the virus and the ability to prevent infection with variants may decrease over time.”

Boosters increase the strength of your antibody response. When the virus mutates, a boost in vaccine makes it more likely that your antibodies can protect you against the new variant. If you are six months past your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months past your Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you are encouraged to get boosted now.

“With the detection of the new Omicron variant, being fully vaccinated and making sure you have your booster dose as well is more important than ever,” said Capt. John Iskander, MD MPH, Chief of Preventive Medicine and Population Health. “More than 3,000 active duty and reserve Coast Guard members have received their boosters already. They are truly ‘Semper Paratus’.”

Leading the Way

“Within the Coast Guard, we’ve been ahead of the curve in a couple of ways,” Iskander said. “As soon as the FDA and the CDC recommended boosters, we made it clear in policy that everyone in the Coast Guard is eligible for one, because we are all first responders. We’ve also led in scientifically monitoring how well the vaccine was working within the Coast Guard. It’s worked very well, especially at preventing people from ending up in the hospital due to COVID.”

Talk with your local clinic to make an appointment for your booster shot. If you have questions about the vaccine or the booster shot, talk with your health care professional.

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COVID-19 Vaccine: Boosters available for Coast Guard workforce