MONTPELIER — The state’s top health official says a booster shot for the coronavirus vaccine has yet to be deemed necessary.

At Gov. Phil Scott’s regular news conference Tuesday, Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said coronavirus activity in Vermont remains low. The state averaged under eight new cases per day in the past week. Levine said 82.8% of the state’s eligible population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“That amounts to over 455,000 people,” Levine said.

The so-called Delta variant, first identified in India, has been getting more and more attention as it moves toward becoming the dominant strain in the country. The variant is said to be more transmissible than other strains and has been shown to cause more severe illness.

Levine said all three of the vaccines available work against the variants that are out there.

“So if you want to protect yourself against COVID and its variants, the best way to do that is to get vaccinated,” he said. Levine said the vaccines appear to offer protection for a long time, but investigations are still underway to see how long they last.

“Which is a good thing. It’s good that the manufacturers and the scientific community continue to research this. … The bottom line is there’s no evidence that you need a booster at this point, but we will closely monitor any new guidance and let you know if that changes,” he said.

Some have been wondering if an extra vaccine shot is needed to protect against the more contagious Delta variant.

Levine said since a booster dose is not recommended, those looking to acquire one from a state vaccine site will be turned away. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is virus-based and has been shown to be slightly less effective than the two-dose versions from Pfizer and Moderna, which are mRNA vaccines. Levine said the single-dose vaccine is still effective against the coronavirus and its variants and there’s no evidence showing that the vaccine is handling the Delta variant differently than other variants seen during the pandemic.

“There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that a booster with an mRNA vaccine would be necessary, and this is also under active study,” he said.

He said if someone got the single-dose vaccine, and they are traveling to an area that isn’t as vaccinated as Vermont and are concerned about their safety, they should consider other strategies to protect themselves from the virus, such as wearing a mask, instead of trying to get a booster shot.

eric.blaisdell

@timesargus.com

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