Everything you need to know about the booster shot

By Andrew Aguilar

Researchers, governors and citizens are considering a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This booster shot will help those with weakened immune systems who did not have a strong enough response to the first two doses of the mRNA vaccines.

As of late October, the FDA has approved mixing and matching booster shots, but only some people are eligible for booster shots at the moment. The CDC stated they do not have any preference on whether people should get the same vaccine that they already received or get a different one.

Who is eligible for a booster?

Booster shots, previously, were only available for Pfizer-Biontech vaccine recipients who completed their initial series at least six months ago.

Those who are now currently qualified for the booster vaccine are:

Johnson & Johnson recipients (2 months after first dose):

  • All are encouraged to get a booster shot regardless of age, living conditions, work conditions or immune status.

Moderna & Pfizer recipients (6 months after first dose):

  • Those 65+
  • Anyone 18+ who has underlying medical conditions
  • Anyone 18+ who works in high-risk settings
  • Anyone 18+ who lives in high-risk settings

Source: cdc.gov

All of the vaccines appear to lose a bit of effectiveness over time, as people’s immunity naturally wanes with time. This, combined with the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, made it seem fitting to have a third dose offered.

According to a recent study that was released, researchers found that vaccine effectiveness decreased from 91.9% in March to just 53.9% in August across all vaccines. The highest reduction being the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

How much of a difference will the booster make?

In general, it looks like it makes a big difference, improving your protection to 95% levels against infection and 99% protection against hospitalization.

People with a booster shot are about 10 times more likely to avoid infection than those who were vaccinated but not boosted, though the exact number varies somewhat by age.

People with a booster shot are about 20 times more likely to avoid hospitalization than those who were vaccinated but not boosted. Information provided by the Veterans Health Administration.

According to the CDC and FDA.gov, the most common side effects of the booster shot are similar to that of the second, including pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever.

Studies show that after getting vaccinated against COVID, protections against the virus may decrease over time and be less able to protect against the Delta variant. This is similar to why you are encouraged to get a new flu shot every year: not only does your immunity wane, viruses also evolve.

How to Find a COVID-19 Vaccine:

  • Search vaccines.gov
  • Text your zip code to 438829 or…
  • Call (800)-232–0233

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