Jan 13, 2022 - Health

Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements

A woman gets vaccinated in San Juan, Puerto Rico

A woman gets vaccinated in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images

Puerto Rico will require booster shots for all public school students over the age of 12, as well as people working in entertainment and tourism, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi announced in a series of tweets Thursday.

Why it matters: Puerto Rico is facing a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant. While the island had a positivity rate below 5% at the end of 2021, it has spiked to 36% in the new year, AP reported.

Catch up quick: The new measures follow other recent steps taken by the governor to stymie the spread of COVID-19, including delaying the opening of public schools by two weeks and requiring boosters for those in the food, health and education sectors, per AP.

The big picture: While more than 70% of Puerto Rico's total population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, only about 40% of people have received their booster shots, per AP.

  • The booster shot requirement will apply to people who work in hotels, cinemas, and convention centers, among other sectors, Pierluisi tweeted.
  • The requirement will also apply to college and technical degree students. Those with medical or religious exemptions will be required to be tested every week, he added.
  • "I trust our people and I know they will respond to this call to continue to protect us," he concluded.

Worth noting: Pierluisi also ordered the extension of current public health restrictions for another two weeks on Thursday.

  • Until Feb. 2 most businesses will be ordered to close from midnight to 5am, and those that remain open will be prohibited from selling alcohol.
  • Businesses serving food or drinks indoors must maintain a 50% capacity, and beginning Jan. 17, public venues like supermarkets and shopping malls will be limited to 75% capacity.
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