COVID-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Hospitals across the country are still continuing to admit patients who have contracted the virus. In recent weeks and months, a discussion has emerged about whether people who have been fully vaccinated will need booster shots with the new variants that have come along. Here is what you need to know about the booster shot.
Why is a Booster Shot Being Discussed?
In general, vaccines do not provide protection indefinitely. For example, a booster shot for tetanus is recommended 10 years after getting it. Fully vaccinated seniors, caregivers, and family members are still protected against severe illness and potentially dying if they contract COVID-19. But viruses adapt and change.
The flu virus is a prime example of this because the flu changes season to season. This requires another flu shot every year. The purpose of a vaccine is to give the immune system an idea of what the virus looks. Since COVID-19 has developed variants, the immunity the current vaccines offer may fade over time.
Who Needs a Booster Shot and When?
The best estimate about when to get a booster shot from experts is approximately eight months after full immunization. Those who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are recommended to get them eight months after the second shot. Johnson and Johnson is still working on gathering data about booster shots. Guidance about boosters for its vaccines is expected to come soon.
Seniors and health care workers who received the vaccine early are eligible to receive boosters starting September 20 depending on the date of the second dose. Booster shots are currently available to those with compromised immune systems who have gone 28 days since their last shot, because they may not have enough protection to start with.
It’s not currently known if the booster shot needs to be the same brand as the original vaccine.
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