By DR. MARTHA WHYTE | OPH Region 7 Medical DirectorSince COVID-19 vaccines first became available in December 2020, we have seen occasional changes in the vaccination guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Following the availability of and recommendation for the first series of vaccinations, boosters have been recommended for those who are eligible. Now, there is a general push for a second Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) booster shot.
With the second booster shot, many Americans are currently asking when to get it, who should get it and how beneficial it is.
When to get it?
For most individuals to be considered fully vaccinated, they must have received their initial round of primary vaccines and their first booster shot. CDC says guidelines remain relatively the same for most Americans, but recommendations have changed, based on age, immune status and type of original vaccine received.
Timing is important for second boosters — at least four months after the first booster shot was administered. Those who received the J&J vaccine must wait at least four months from receiving their primary dose and booster.
Who should get it?
Health officials are now recommending the second coronavirus booster shot for:
- Those who are age 50 or older
- Individuals ages 12 and up who are moderately or severely immunocompromised (Pfizer only for ages 12-17)
- Those with two doses (one primary and one booster) of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) Janssen vaccine.
How beneficial is it?
Recent research shows that during the Omicron surge, those who were boosted were 7 times less likely to be hospitalized and 21 times less likely to die from COVID-19 as compared to unvaccinated individuals.
The average American desires to remain healthy and help keep their loved ones healthy as well. Factors that may affect the choice of a second booster shot include the greater risk for severe disease from COVID-19, the concern over giving COVID-19 to someone close who is immunocompromised, or greater risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Second boosters are meant to prevent hospitalizations. However, as with any vaccine, the second booster shot has a relative effective time in the body. It is not an end-all to complete protection against COVID-19. The series of vaccines and the second booster help to build immunity against infection and protect the individual for the life of the vaccine.
The choice of whether to receive a second booster shot, ultimately, is left up to the individual and their medical professional.
Future important life events and recent COVID-19 diagnoses are just two reasons that some individuals may choose to wait to receiving a second dose. Other factors include daily schedule constraints and the general thought of overall health being good and already adequately vaccinated.
If you are in a group listed above that is eligible for the second booster, or you know of someone who is, talk to your doctor. To book your free second booster or schedule an in-home vaccination, call 1-855-453-0774 or visit vaccines.gov. Find pertinent information around the second booster shot and other COVID-19 updates at www.cdc.gov.