Clock ticking on getting COVID-19 booster shot before holiday travel

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- With Thanksgiving 15 days away, most who plan to travel for the holiday have their airline tickets booked or rental cars reserved. And for some this year, a COVID-19 booster shot is also part of the travel plan.

Two weeks before the nation gathers for turkey, trimmings and holiday hugs, now's the time to get it.

"So we are traveling. We're going to Vegas for Thanksgiving," said Lizzie Preinfalk with her boyfriend, Joe, as they walked through Moore Square in Raleigh. "We're both vaccinated but definitely thinking about getting the booster for traveling."

Sarah Potts, her husband, Collin, and their two children, on the square Wednesday night, are having similar discussions at their home.

READ MORE: Cohen encourages COVID shots for younger children

"Based on my knowledge, I'm not eligible for a booster yet," she said. "But my husband is, and he's working on getting his. We're going to visit his parents who are also vaccinated."

ABC11 talked about the timeline to get a booster before the holiday with UNC's Dr. David Wohl.

"The booster is sort of like an insurance policy," Wohl said. "It takes about two weeks before those antibodies that are prompted that are triggered by the booster to shoot up. If you're going to get boosted, now's the time to do it."

But even if you're eligible for a booster, Wohl said if you're fully vaccinated, your protection is likely still strong.

"So, I wouldn't be worried if I wasn't boosted right now. Your vaccine is probably working," he said. "But there are some people whose protection may be wearing a little thin. And we don't exactly know who's who. So I do think we have to be really careful."

The holiday clock is ticking harder for unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated people to get the shots before a holiday gathering.

"The decrease in risk starts up around 10 to 14 days after you're fully vaccinated. That's where we start to see it really kick in," Wohl said. "So now's the time to get vaccinated if you want to be protected around Thanksgiving."

This week, Pfizer asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize booster shots for all Americans age 18 and up. The FDA could approve the request before Thanksgiving.
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.