Skip to main content

Military Health System

Test of Sitewide Banner

This is a test of the sitewide banner capability. In the case of an emergency, site visitors would be able to visit the news page for addition information.

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)

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...

COVID-19 Health Action Response for Marines continues to study long-term effects of COVID-19 on Marines

Article Around MHS
Medical military personnel talking to a patient

A team composed of U.S. Navy medical personnel and civilian technicians based out of the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, assembled during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 to study the short and long-term effects that the virus has on Marines. 

Does CSM Gragg Have COVID-19?

Does CSM Gragg Have COVID-19?

CSM Gragg demonstrates how to use a COVID-19 at home rapid test.

Getting up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine

Article Around MHS
Military personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. Guard Coast is that we have vaccines to help prevent serious illness if you contract COVID-19.

VAXFacts TRICARE coverage Vaccine

Vax Fax COVID-19 Infographic

Will TRICARE cover the COVID-19 Vaccine? Yes. TRICARE offers the vaccine itself at no cost, but there may be a cost based on your plan for an office visit or if you require follow-on care.

Compromised Immune System

COVID-19 Infographic about Compromised Immune System

Do you have a compromised immune system? The CDC recommends you get an additional primary dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

VaxFacts: Should I get a booster?

VaxFacts Infographic ab out the booster vaccine

Should I get a COVID-19 Booster Shot?

DOD COVID-19 Practice Management Guide Version 8

Technical Document

This Practice Management Guide does not supersede DOD Policy. It is based upon the best information available at the time of publication. It is designed to provide information and assist decision making. It is not intended to define a standard of care and should not be construed as one. Neither should it be interpreted as prescribing an exclusive course of management. It was developed by experts in this field. Variations in practice will inevitably and appropriately occur when clinicians take into account the needs of individual patients, available resources, and limitations unique to an institution or type of practice. Every healthcare professional making use of this guideline is responsible for evaluating the appropriateness of applying it in the setting of any particular clinical situation. The Practice Management Guide is not intended to represent TRICARE policy. Further, inclusion of recommendations for specific testing and/or therapeutic interventions within this guide does not guarantee coverage of civilian sector care. Additional information on current TRICARE benefits may be found at or by contacting your regional TRICARE Managed Care Support Contractor.

Oregon National Guard surging to support hospitals again

Article Around MHS
Oregon Army National Guard touring a hospital

Hundreds of Oregon National Guard members are increasing support of hospitals throughout the state in their second hospital relief mission during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public Health nurses offer insights on living with COVID-19 now, looking into future

Article Around MHS
The Challenges of Living with COVID

One of the more challenging jobs for any public health professional is dealing with unpredictability inherent in outbreaks like the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Do You Have COVID-19? Influenza? Or is it RSV? Here’s What to Look For

Military personnel preparing a COVID-19 test sample for processing

Knowing the symptoms of COVID-19/RSV/Flu will help your medical treatment

Medical Leaders Address COVID-19 Concerns During Family Forum

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jemuel Macabali, from San Diego, Calif., gives the COVID-19 vaccine to staff at Camp Lemonnier, in Djibouti, Aug. 13, 2021.

Top health leaders talk about the recent spike in COVID-19 infections and the impact on the military community.

Navy Hospital Corpsman steps into the breach in the war on COVID-19

Article Around MHS
Hospitalman Hector Conde standing in front of a immunization office's refrigeration

First responders and those fighting on the medical battleground have earned well-deserved recognition for their efforts.

Critically ill COVID Patient Delivers Baby While on Heart-Lung Bypass

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hernandez and his wife, Ashley, take a family portrait with their six children. Ashley is BAMC’s first patient to give birth while on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation.

Hernandez, a Marine Corps spouse and mother of five, is BAMC’s first patient to give birth while on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation.

DHA Form 236: Pediatric (5-11 years) COVID-19 Vaccine Screening and Immunization Documentation, v10


This form is used to determine if the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered to the pediatric patient. (Version 10, December 2022)

This is my Why

Article Around MHS
Air Force Senior Airman Marcus Bullock poses for a photo after receiving his COVID-19 vaccination

Air Force Senior Airman Marcus Bullock stated his reason for getting the vaccine was to help his mother and son be able to have a play date again.

Page 4 of 25 , showing items 46 - 60
First < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > Last 
Refine your search
Last Updated: May 04, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery