According to the CDC, people ages 5 and up should receive a booster shot if it has been at least 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose. Studies have shown that the initial vaccine doses lose efficacy over time, and a booster dose will bolster immune responses from the original series of vaccines.
Why do I need a booster shot?
Although the original COVID-19 vaccine doses provided immunity against the virus, the booster helps maintain strong protection against severe disease. After immunity from the original series has naturally waned, a booster shot will increase levels of immune response by triggering the body to increase the quality and quantity of antibodies.
To have optimal protection against the vaccine, it is important to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines. You are considered up to date if you have completed a COVID-19 primary series and have received the most recent booster dose recommended by the CDC. People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have different recommendations for staying up to date.
Recommended Shots and Boosters by Age Group
|Age group||Pfizer-BioNTech||Moderna||Johnson and Johnson||Novavax|
|6 months- 4 years||3 primary doses||3 primary doses + 1 bivalent booster||Not FDA-approved for age group||Not FDA-approved for age group|
|5-11 years||3 primary doses + 1 bivalent booster||3 primary doses + 1 bivalent booster||Not FDA-approved for age group||Not FDA-approved for age group|
|12-17 years||3 primary doses + 1 bivalent booster||3 primary doses + 1 bivalent booster||Not FDA-approved for age group||Not FDA-approved for age group|
|18 years and older||3 primary doses + 1 bivalent booster||3 primary doses +1 bivalent booster||1 primary dose + 1 booster + 1 bivalent booster||2 primary doses + 1 bivalent booster|
The monovalent boosters were boosters administered before the authorization of the latest bivalent booster. These boosters were simply additional doses of the same vaccine. The same dose of the same vaccine composition was administered for an additional time to bolster immune responses. There was no difference between the vaccine you received in your first dose and the one you received in your third dose.
Although these boosters were effective in bolstering immunity, they could only protect against the original variant of COVID-19. As the virus evolved, it became more resistant to antibodies produced by these monovalent boosters, and immune response to the new omicron subvariants began to dwindle. After the authorization of the bivalent booster, the monovalent booster is no longer authorized as a booster dose for individuals 12 and older, but it is still authorized as a booster for 5-11-year-olds.
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The bivalent booster is the most recent COVID-19 vaccine booster. This new vaccine contains two messenger RNA components of the COVID-19 virus. This means the vaccine provides an immune response to the original coronavirus strain and protects against the more transmissible omicron variants. The Pfizer-BioNTech booster has been approved for ages 12 and up, whereas the Moderna booster has been approved for ages 18 and up. You do not have to get the same booster as your primary doses.
The CDC recommends getting the bivalent booster at least two months after your most recent COVID-19 vaccine. If you recently had COVID-19, you should wait three months from your positive test to get the vaccine. Studies have shown that increased time between infection and vaccination will improve your body’s immune response.
Covid-19 Boost shot Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are a few FAQs about getting the booster shot this fall.
Where can I get the booster?
Although most mass vaccination sites have closed down, you can get the COVID-19 booster at your local pharmacy or doctor’s office. You can also visit Vaccines.gov to find the closest vaccine location.
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How much does the booster cost?
The federal government buys the vaccine from private companies, like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, and sends it to healthcare providers and clinics. Those administering the vaccine must agree to inoculate people without charging them, so as of October 2022, the COVID-19 booster is completely free.
Can I get the booster and flu shot at the same time?
Experts have said that you can get the booster and flu shot simultaneously. Researchers are unsure if the side effects are worse when both shots are administered simultaneously. Each shot has its side effects, and everyone experiences them differently.
Is the booster safe?
The COVID-19 booster and its primary dose counterparts have proven safe and show little to no evidence of causing long-term side effects. Most people experience mild symptoms after vaccination, like aches, fatigue, or fever. Like most vaccines, patients may also experience pain at the injection site. Extreme side effects like myocarditis and thrombosis are rare. Individuals are more likely to die from COVID-19 infection or to develop these side effects after infection than to develop these side effects from the vaccine, so the benefits of the booster far outweigh the costs.
Individuals should get their booster shot if they are eligible. The new bivalent booster is more effective at protecting from the more transmissible omicron variants than the previous monovalent boosters, and the COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to protect against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
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Shandra is a junior at Yale University, where she is studying biomedical engineering. Before joining Mira, Shandra wrote in the science and technology column of a local newspaper. Additionally, she has experience writing healthcare policy, covering topics such as the American Rescue Plan Act, abortion rights, and expansion of Medicare eligibility.