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...

Development of WRAIR’s Pan-Coronavirus Vaccine Shows Promise

A vial of spike ferritin nanoparticle WRAIR's COVID-19 vaccine

Series of preclinical studies supports the Army’s pan-coronavirus vaccine development strategy

Immunization Experts are Central to COVID-19 Vaccine Program

Medical director at Fort Riley, Kansas receives a COVID-19 vaccination In his left arm from a tech in personal protective equipment.

Immunization Health Division at forefront of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Military Health System Marks 1-Year Anniversary for COVID Vaccinations

FEmale Marine gets COVID 19 vaccination in left  arm at Camp LeJeune in December 2020

More than 6.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered a year after first shots within MHS.

So others may breathe - Navy Medicine Respiratory Therapist cares for COVID casualties

Article Around MHS
Military Health personnel posing for a picture

Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Tessa Hazard, a respiratory therapist, recently deployed to Alabama as a member of a COVID-19 response team.

Army Public Health Center provides update on Long COVID risks

Article Around MHS
COVID19 Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

JTF Coyote begins pediatric COVID-19 clinics as adult booster vaccination numbers increase

Article Around MHS
Military health personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The Vermont National Guard now supports the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccinations for youth in the 5 to 11 age group and booster clinics for the general adult population.

MHS Reaches 6 Million Doses of Vaccine Against COVID

Airmen of the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, receive COVID-19 immunizations as a part of the federal mandate at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Missouri, Oct. 2, 2021. The 139th Medical Group oversees the operation. .

Military passes 6 million mark for COVID-19 shots administered across the Military Health System.

COVID 19 Vaccine Is Now Available for Children 5 to 11

5-year-old girl in mask reads a book by herself

COVID-19 vaccines for 5-11 year olds are ready now through MHS

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination Attestation, Screening Testing, and Vaccination Verification


This memorandum provides guidance on the implementation of vaccination, attestation, and testing requirements in accordance with the References listed in Attachment 1 to reduce the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.

  • Identification #: 21-004
  • Date: 11/3/2021
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: COVID-19

Pregnancy Health Alert: COVID-19 Vaccine is Strongly Recommended

Pregnant women gets the COVID-19 vaccine

Get vaccinated for COVID-19 if you’re pregnant or trying, DOD and CDC and advise.

More Than 95% of Active Duty Have Received COVID-19 Vaccine

Female hospital corpsman gives a COVID-19 vaccine injection to a sailor in her left arm

Service members continue to line up for COVID-19 vaccinations.

USECAF receives insight into COVID19 vaccinations at Reserve wing

Article Around MHS
Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visits with 433rd Airlift Wing members at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Oct. 2, 2021.

Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visited the 433rd Airlift Wing here to meet with Reserve Citizen Airmen leaders on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination efforts, Oct. 2, 2021.

Compassionate Caring with COVID Vax Commitment

Article Around MHS
A  female doctor poses for a photo.

When pregnant patients have an appointment with Lt. Cmdr. Megan Northup at Naval Hospital Bremerton, they get more than a qualified and caring OB/GYN physician.

Mask Mouth Does Not Exist, Dentists Say

A bunch of children wearing face masks walk on a city street.

Mask mouth doesn’t exist, Internet chatter to the contrary, dentists say.

COVID-19 Booster Shots are Now Available – What You Need to Know

Containers of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Each vial contains six doses for vaccination against the COVID-19 virus.

Booster shots are now recommended for millions of people – but many others will have to wait for additional approvals.

Page 5 of 25 , showing items 61 - 75
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