Authorized COVID-19 vaccines continue to be effective in reducing the severity of infections, the need for hospitalization, and even death. Medical experts in the United States understand that the protection of any vaccine will wane over time. With the presence of the quick-spreading Delta variant, it is clear that something has to be done to maximize protection against the COVID-19 virus.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with public health and medical experts, have released a joint statement at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website that they have come up with a plan to start offering booster shots, starting with moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals. This was after it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and was given a vote from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
Health care providers, the elderly, nursing home residents, and everyone who was part of the first batch of vaccinations will also be eligible for a booster shot soon.
What is a booster vaccine?
A booster vaccine can be quite a confusing term. It is important to understand that a booster dose and an additional dose are different from each other, depending on who is receiving it. For people with immunocompromised conditions who are not able to build enough immunity, the third COVID vaccine dose is an extra dose that can help build stronger protection against the virus.
For fully vaccinated people who got the first two doses earlier than others, the protection the vaccine used to provide may decrease over time. This is called “waning immunity”. When this happens, a third dose can help boost the effectiveness of the vaccine and increase the protection it provides.
Either way, the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is designed to reduce the risks of getting severely infected, lessen the need to be hospitalized, and help lower the COVID mortality rate.
Is it necessary to get a third dose of the COVID vaccine?
It is not necessary to get a third dose of the COVID vaccine. It is still the choice of each individual whether or not to get the third dose. But based on studies and the gathered data from those, it is highly recommended for immunocompromised people to get a booster shot, especially when their bodies do not respond well to the first two doses. The additional dose may help improve the immune system’s response and help build stronger immunity against the COVID-19 virus.
Is it safe to get a booster shot?
It is safe to get a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. The HHS, CDC, and the FDA, based on data collated after in-depth studies, determine that the benefits of getting a booster shot far outweigh any potential risk.
It is still important to observe health and safety protocols, such as wearing a face mask over your nose and mouth, washing your hands regularly, and maintaining a social distance of at least six feet from other people. It is important to keep in mind that not everyone is vaccinated. Also, even if you are fully vaccinated with the first two doses and a booster shot, there is still a possibility for you to get the virus and spread it to other people, even if it does not infect you.
Who can get a COVID-19 vaccine booster?
Not everyone can get a COVID-19 vaccine booster immediately. For now, individuals aged 12 years old and older who have medical conditions, undergoing treatment, or taking medications that may be compromising their immunity are eligible for a booster shot. You can get a COVID-19 booster shot if:
- You are undergoing active treatment for cancer
- You underwent an organ transplant and is still in immunosuppressive therapy
- You had a stem cell transplant within two years prior
- You have a primary immunodeficiency
- You have advanced or untreated HIV
- You are undergoing treatment that involves high doses of corticosteroids
- You are taking medications that may weaken the immune system
If you fall under any of these conditions, you must first consult your doctor if you are eligible for a third dose of the COVID vaccine.
All Americans will soon be eligible for a booster dose. Health agencies and medical experts say they plan to begin offering booster shots around Sept 20 of this year. Fully vaccinated people will be able to receive the booster vaccine at least eight months after the second dose.
Can we get any type of COVID booster vaccine?
The only types of COVID booster vaccines you can get are Pfizer and Moderna. As of today, only these two are available and authorized for third doses. Your first and second shots must be from any of these two vaccine manufacturers.
Regardless of the original vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna, the booster shot can be from either one of them. So, if you got the original doses from Pfizer, you can either get a Pfizer or a Moderna booster shot, and vice versa.
The Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine may soon need a booster shot as well but more data is needed to make that happen. That data will be available in the coming weeks and the CDC will be updating the public as soon as J&J vaccine booster shots are available.
Is the COVID booster shot available?
The COVID booster shot is available at most vaccination sites. In New York City, you can get a third dose at pharmacies, hospitals, community health centers, and private doctors’ clinics.
Statcare powered by Nao Medical will be administering the vaccines to eligible patients. You can get your third dose here even if you got the first two shots from another vaccination site. Just make sure that it has been at least four weeks since you got your second COVID-19 vaccine dose.