The booster roll-out should continue for those who want them.
Booster shots are currently being rolled out to all those aged 18 or older who had their second shot more than three months ago.
Relative to a two-shot regimen, booster shots significantly reduce the likelihood of death and serious illness due to COVID-19. The UK Health Security Agency found that, whereas a two-shot regimen offered roughly 60 per cent protection against death for omicron for over-50s relative to being unvaccinated, a booster dose increased that protection to 95 per cent. Data from Switzerland is consistent, with data from the week ended 30 January 2022 showing the age-standardised COVID death rate being 73 per cent lower for those boosted compared to those with only two doses. Like the protection from the original two doses, booster protection wanes over time, nonetheless boosted patients always present stronger immune responses than those who are unboosted.
These benefits accrue primarily to boosted people themselves, however, they also contribute to some reduction in the pressure on the health service. Boosted people are less likely to end up in hospital and less likely to end up on a ventilator than those with two shots.
The costs of the booster roll-out are limited. Booster shots are inexpensive by the standards of modern pharmaceuticals and are much cheaper than the healthcare and disruption they prevent.
Boosters are an important way to reduce the costs of the inevitable spread of Omicron through the community. Nonetheless, given most of the benefits of booster doses go to those who get boosted, there is little case for mandating them.