New COVID Boosters: Pinewood Hopes to Return to a State of Normalcy

Lara Parikh, Science & Tech Writer

2020. The golden year, or so people thought. The whole world was struck by a menacing force: COVID-19. People constantly lived in a state of fear and paranoia as they weren’t sure what they had to do next. COVID-19 put a pause on people’s lives, and it took away everyone’s ability to be carefree and relaxed. Luckily, scientists from all over the world have created vaccines and boosters to help reinforce people’s immunity against COVID. 

On Sept. 2, 2022, the Omicron BA.5 booster was released. It targeted the most contagious variant of COVID, Omicron, which has now split into two subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5. BA.5 is the most contagious subvariant, which is now responsible for around 80% of COVID cases in the U.S. Messenger RNA, or mRNA, is the main component in the previous COVID vaccines and boosters. It’s now used in the BA.5 booster. mRNA is a genetic substance that instructs the body on how to make protein. The booster is composed of two mRNA parts which targets the new subvariants of Omicron. This type of shot is called a bivalent booster, as it attacks the original COVID strain and the new Omicron variant. 

It’s recommended that recipients of the new bivalent booster include children ages 6 months to 17 years and adults ages 18 years and older. Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax are providers of this vaccine, and it is advised by the CDC to get vaccinated through these companies to further prevent the virus from spreading. 

Pinewood has never had a vaccination and booster requirement, so people can decide as they please based on comfort levels. There are also no worldwide booster requirements as of right now, but if infection rates start to increase, the policies may change.

Like the previous vaccines, the Omicron BA.5 booster comes with some side effects. Fatigue, fever, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site are all common symptoms of the booster.

Despite infection and death rates decreasing, COVID still has an effect on the Pinewood community. It may not be as detrimental as it was two years ago, but there are still a few people wearing masks for comfort. In fact, there was a large COVID outbreak within the sophomores recently, and as a result, many students wore masks to school to protect themselves for a couple weeks. During COVID, people didn’t get to interact with others as much,  therefore losing touch with society. And as observed by a few teachers, students have become more sheltered and less spirited due to COVID. But over the past two years, the Pinewood spirit has started to gradually break through the barriers of COVID. Slowly but surely, the world is recovering from the perils of the virus and back to the action-packed life people had.