Authorized COVID-19 vaccines continue to be effective in reducing the severity of infections and the need for hospitalization. Medical experts in the United States understand that the protection of any vaccine will wane over time. As the continuous transmission of the virus is causing more mutations, it’s clear that something has to be done to maximize protection against the COVID-19 virus.
The US Department of Health and Human Services, along with public health and medical experts, have released a joint statement on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. It states 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 and was given a vote from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Health care providers, individuals aged 60 years old and up, 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’s important to understand that a booster dose and an additional dose are different from each other, depending on who’s receiving it.
For people with immunocompromised conditions, the third COVID vaccine dose is an extra dose to 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 mandatory to get a third dose of the COVID vaccine?
It’s not mandatory to get a third dose of the COVID vaccine. It’s still the choice of each individual whether or not to get it. But based on studies, it’s highly recommended for immunocompromised people to get a third shot, especially when their bodies don’t 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’s safe to get a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Based on data collated from in-depth studies, the HHS, CDC, and FDA determine that the benefits of getting a booster shot far outweigh any potential risk.
Everyone must still 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. Keep in mind that not everyone is vaccinated. If you’re fully vaccinated with two doses and a booster shot, you can still get the virus and spread it to other people, even if it doesn’t 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, are undergoing treatment, or taking medications that may compromise their immunity are eligible for a booster shot. You can get a COVID-19 booster shot if:
- You’re undergoing active treatment for cancer
- You underwent an organ transplant and are still in immunosuppressive therapy
- You had a stem cell transplant less than two years prior
- You have a primary immunodeficiency
- You have advanced or untreated HIV
- You’re undergoing treatment that involves high doses of corticosteroids
- You’re taking medications that may weaken the immune system
If you fall under any of these conditions, you must first consult your doctor to check if you’re eligible for a third dose of the COVID vaccine.
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 has a booster shot as well but the Pfizer and Moderna work just as well.
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 urgent care centers, pharmacies, hospitals, community health centers, and private doctors’ clinics.