The new federal guidelines for who should get additional COVID-19 shots have raised new questions about when to get a new dose.
The recommendations released last week include people over the age of 50 and anyone over the age of 12 with a moderate or severely weakened immune system. It is an effort on the part of the health authorities to increase the protection of the most vulnerable to serious illness prior to a potential increase caused by a more contagious version of the omicron variant. It also contains new recommendations for individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as their primary immunization.
This change comes with more qualifications and can be complicated as people assess the risk of getting out of the winter wave. asked The Bangor Daily News readers last week what kind of questions they have about the additional dose recommendations. We answered some of the most common ones we received below.
What is the risk of not getting a new booster?
A booster does not prevent you from getting COVID-19, but it can protect you from serious illness. Both Pfizer and Moderna boosters are extremely effective against more severe cases of COVID-19 for about two months. Their the effect begins to diminish after the. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in February that protection against serious illness dropped from 87 percent to 66 percent and hospitalizations from 91 percent to 78 percent.
Omicron and BA.2 variant rising in the United States has been called more “mild” because it typically causes less severe symptoms than previous versions. But the chance of getting very sick is still possible, as proven of the record number of hospitalized patients during the omicron rise. This is one of the main reasons why health officials recommend a fourth boost for qualified people, while cases remain relatively low.
Who is considered immune compromised?
A person with a weaker immune system is more likely to need hospitalization or intensive care, including possibly needing a ventilator to help breathe. The Federal CDC has one list of conditions which puts a person more at risk for serious illness, including cancer, diabetes, certain heart diseases and those who have had organ transplants. People who are pregnant are included in the list. If you are not sure if your condition is qualified, talk to a doctor.
When should I get a booster?
Generally, a qualified person can get a fourth booster four months after their last dose, just like an adult over 18 who received a Johnson and Johnson primary and booster dose. You should not wait for the number of cases to rise to do so, said spokesman for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Long, because indicators such as wastewater data and hospitalizations begin to show higher levels of the virus, meaning transmission is increasing.
If you have recently received COVID-19 and still want to get a booster, just wait until your symptoms have disappeared and you have isolated yourself for the recommended period. This period is five days for asymptomatic cases, 10 days for moderate cases and up to 20 days or more for severe cases. according to the Federal CDC. People who received monoclonal antibody treatments do not have to wait to get a new shot.
Do I need a booster of any kind to travel?
It depends on. If you are a non-citizen or immigrant coming from outside In the United States, you must have a first series of vaccines and show evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken one day before travel. If you are traveling to another country, it varies.
You should check the guidelines for the country you plan to visit. E.g, France only allow unvaccinated people from certain countries to visit with a negative test. It considers anyone with a booster shot to be fully vaccinated, so people from approved countries must show proof of a third shot. COVID Passport, a news site that tracks which countries accept vaccine passports, updates regularly with the political changes of the countries.
If you are traveling within the United States, please contact your preferred airline for any vaccination requirements.
Where can I get a booster?
Any place that currently offers primary doses and boosters should be able to give you an extra booster. You can check here for a list of sites or call the Maine Vaccination Hotline at 1-888-445-4111.