Students and teachers rolling up their arms for booster shots


Courtesy Anthony Quintano

The Moderna booster shot is part of the nationwide rollout of additional vaccinations to help people against COVID-19.

Booster shots became available to people ages 16 and up in Contra Costa County earlier this month.

As a result, Cal High teachers and eligible students have started to receive their booster shots, which are available six months after an individual has received their Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two months after an individual has received their Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the Contra Costa Health Services website.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the booster on Nov. 19 for all individuals 18 years old and up and on Dec. 9 it approved the Pfizer booster for 16 and 17 year olds as well.

Chemistry teacher Debbie Smith said that she signed up for the shot through Kaiser, and it was a relatively easy process. 

“It was pretty much identical to me getting my first two shots,” Smith said.

Like Smith, senior Noelle Yamamoto describes the process to get the booster as the same as the first and second vaccination processes. 

“It was just at a local CVS,” Yamamoto said. “We went there for a scheduled appointment that my dad booked, and I just had to go in and fill out a form.”

Senior Carter Soe said after he got his booster shot, he had to wait for 10 minutes in a room. He said this was to make sure there were no immediate reactions to the vaccine, and then he was good to go.

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) website states that side effects of the vaccine and booster can include pain, swelling, and redness on the arm where an individual gets their shot. Other effects can include tiredness, muscle pain, headaches, chills, fever, and nausea. 

The CDC also explained how these side effects are normal, and are signs that an individual’s body is building protection against COVID-19.

Algebra 2 teacher Anthony Khoo also received the booster shot. 

“All day Friday, I was laid up, so I couldn’t go to work,” Khoo said. “I had fever, chills, body aches, just a really bad flu, but it was fast.” 

Smith said she felt soreness in her arm after the booster shot, similar to her previous COVID vaccinations.  Soe also had some side effects.

“Not only was my arm sore, but I got a runny nose and a bad headache,” Soe said.

Freshman Julia Honsinger said that her mom received the booster shot. 

“Overall [my mom’s experience getting the shot] was pretty good,” Honsigner said. ‘She did have some symptoms after, like coughing, but it didn’t last long, maybe a day.” 

Khoo said getting his booster provides an extra level of security for him, as he coaches youth basketball and doesn’t want to put anyone at risk.

“The doctors know what they are talking about […] which is why we rely on people who study immunology to tell us what we should do when we get an immunization,” Smith said.