Should you get an extra COVID-19 booster shot
Should you get an extra COVID-19 booster shot

Should you get an extra COVID-19 booster shot

A patient receives his second Covid-19 vaccine at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital Anschutz on Tuesday, October 19, 2021. Now that additional COVID-19 boosters are available for people 50 years and older, should you get one? Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon, for UCHealth.

Now that additional COVID-19 vaccine booster doses are available for people aged 50 and older, you may be wondering if you should get one.

To answer your questions about the additional COVID-19 booster doses, we consulted with Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control for UCHealth and one of the best experts in infectious diseases in Colorado.

Do you need a booster dose? Which immunocompromised people are eligible for extra doses? What is the best time to get an extra COVID-19 booster dose?

Barron, who is also one professor of medicine and infectious diseases by University of Colorado School of Medicine on it Anschutz Medical Campushelps sort out the details of booster doses.

Here’s what health leaders are up to The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now recommends:

  • Anyone aged 50 and over who received their last booster dose at least four months ago is now eligible to receive a second booster dose. (See information on signing up for a free vaccine dose.)
  • The new FDA approval covers booster doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Certain immunocompromised children and adults aged 12 years and older may also receive an extra booster dose at least four months after their last booster shot. The new guidelines apply to people who have undergone solid organ transplants and others with similarly compromised immune systems.
  • Some immunocompromised people receive three doses of COVID-19 vaccines as their primary series. For these people, the extra dose will be a fifth shot.
  • For people who are not immunocompromised, the extra booster will likely be a fourth dose.
  • If you have any questions about COVID-19 vaccines, contact your primary care physician to make sure you are up to date on your doses.
  • Individuals who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine are also eligible for booster doses.
  • COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses are safe and highly effective, the FDA and other health authorities have determined.

The FDA approved the additional booster shots because research has shown that the vaccine’s effectiveness decreases over time. Elderly adults and people with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19.

Other people who are between 50 and 64 years old and have comorbidities (additional diseases) are much more likely to become seriously ill and need to be hospitalized if they receive COVID-19. These conditions include being overweight or having diseases like diabetes. FDA leaders wanted to offer additional protection to older Americans and others who are vulnerable if a new wave of COVID-19 infections hits the United States in the coming months.

Who should get additional COVID-19 booster shots now?

Barron recommends that people age 65 and older and immunocompromised people should get additional booster shots as soon as they are eligible.

What about people aged 50 and over?

Research is less aware that healthy people between the ages of 50 and 64 need boosters right away. If you are immunocompromised or you have other risk factors for becoming seriously ill with COVID-19, get started and get an extra booster dose. Barron said the additional doses are safe, so anyone who is eligible and wants an extra dose should do so.

Why are FDA executives approving additional COVID-19 booster doses now?

Barron said federal health officials approved additional boosters now because they want to reduce hospitalizations and deaths as they anticipate future waves of COVID-19 infections.

“There’s another wave coming. The FDA is proactive now so we can get our immune system ready,” Barron said.

She urged anyone who has not been vaccinated to come and get a shot.

“Even if you get your first dose of vaccine, it is important for you to get in. We all want to have a very free summer and do as we please. Getting vaccines and booster doses is one way to have a good summer without getting sick, “Barron said.

What if I’ve already had COVID-19? Do I need vaccines or booster doses?

Yes. Even if you have recovered from COVID-19, it is wise to get vaccinated and boosted. Why? The simple answer is that you can get COVID-19 multiple times and vaccines will protect you from serious illness, hospitalization and death.

Think of other coronaviruses as those that cause the common cold, Barron said.

“During the winter months, some people catch a cold forever. It does not matter if you had a cold a month ago. You may catch a cold again. That’s because the level of protection you get from each illness is not necessarily as potent as it should be to prevent you from getting sick again, ”Barron said.

“What we’ve learned from COVID-19 is that having it once does not necessarily protect you from getting it again,” she said.

As for the people who are fully vaccinated and have also had COVID-19, research shows that they have built up strong immunities.

Why get vaccinated or a booster dose? Shouldn’t herd immunity protect us?

While about 80% of the U.S. population has received at least one vaccine dose and others have recovered from cases of COVID-19, not all are protected. Barron said vaccines provide longer-lasting protection than natural immunities against a case of COVID-19. So she encourages people to get both their primary vaccine doses and their boosters as soon as they are eligible.

“With herd immunity, the idea is that the vast majority of people are protected. But there are gaps in that herd and there are still individuals who are vulnerable, ”Barron said.

What is the difference in protection between first and second booster?

Israel was the first country to start providing additional COVID-19 booster shots. The UK is also offering fourth shots now (or additional shots for immunocompromised individuals). Early research shows that an extra booster shot can trigger immunities.

“It clearly suggests that if you’re over 65 or immunocompromised, it’s beneficial to get this extra booster injection compared to getting your immune system going again,” Barron said.

How worried are you about the latest omicron variant, BA.2?

The BA.2 variant is spreading rapidly in Europe and cases are increasing in the USA (Read more about the BA.2 variant.) So Barron and other health experts are keeping a close eye on it.

“We’re seeing increases in the US. They’re not dramatic, like what we saw with omicron. It’s not something I’m losing sleep over yet, but we need to be aware of that,” Barron said.

FDA officials approved additional COVID-19 booster doses because they expect further waves of infections. What trends do you expect to see?

“We’re pretty good with where we are right now, but we could see an increase here and there,” Barron said.

The exact time of future increases is impossible to predict. That’s why Barron is urging eligible people to get vaccinated soon.

“In a few weeks or months, things can change and you will not be behind the octopus. Do not wait for the next wave to happen, ”she said.

She also reminds people that it takes about 14 days after receiving a dose before the vaccine becomes effective.

How fast can I get another booster shot?

The vaccines are available now. And they are free for everyone. Barron encourages everyone to come in to get vaccines, whether they are getting their first dose or their first or second booster dose.

“As soon as you are eligible, you can sign up and get in,” she said.

“It’s not too late to get your first vaccines, your primary booster or another booster,” Barron said. “We are possibly over some of the biggest waves in the pandemic. But I do not think we are done with COVID-19. I think we will continue to manage this in the coming years. So the opportunity to start boosting your immune system and being protected is a shot away from you. “

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