Doctors recommend waiting six months before getting a COVID-19 booster – Community News

Doctors recommend waiting six months before getting a COVID-19 booster

Booster shots are being rolled out across much of the world to boost protection against COVID-19, raising questions about when exactly they should be given. While there are no clear-cut answers, doctors say there’s a downside to getting them too soon.

The immune system needs time to build up its defenses. After vaccination or a natural infection, the cells in the lymph nodes begin to mature and improve so that they are better prepared if they encounter the pathogen again. It takes several months to build up what’s known as immune memory — essentially protection galvanized by long-lived, antibody-secreting plasma cells residing in niches like the bone marrow.

A booster shot given several months after the immune system is primed by an initial series — usually two doses of the vaccine — can amplify its response, said Stanley Plotkin, a veteran vaccinologist and professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The additional inoculation triggers a surge in antibodies that are better at antagonizing a range of SARS-CoV-2 variants, he said.

“That interval could be as short as four months, but in general, a six-month interval is probably best,” said Plotkin, whose pioneering research more than 50 years ago led to a rubella vaccine.

An even shorter interval, such as two months, could compromise the body’s ability to mount a sustained immune response, he said in an interview.