Explainer: Should I get a new COVID booster? If so, when?

John Werry will wait until late fall to consider getting the latest COVID-19 boosterImmunologists at the University of Pennsylvania know it’s too early after getting an injection later this summer, especially since the risk from the virus isn’t high.

This is the sort of calculation many Americans will face as booster injections targeting the currently prevalent Omicron strain become available to populations with varying levels of risk and immunity. .

There are a few things you should know.

What’s different about the new boosters?

These are combination or “bivalent” shots containing half of the original vaccine in use since December 2020 and half protection against today’s dominant Omicron versions, BA.4 and BA.5. This is the first update of the COVID-19 vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Who is it for?

Created by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, the updated shots are allowed for all users 12 and older, while rival Moderna’s version is adult-friendly. They are used as boosters for those who already have a primary vaccination series.

If I get one of the original boosters, should I get the new variety immediately?

No. The FDA has set a minimum waiting time of two months. But an adviser to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s better to wait longer: some advise he’ll wait at least three months, while others who aren’t at high risk may wait as long as six. Some people say they can’t.

“If you wait a little longer, you’ll get a better immune response,” said CDC adviser Dr. Sarah Long of Drexel University.

This is because people who have recently gotten boosters already have more antibodies in their bloodstream to fight the virus. Wherry, who is not involved in government decision-making, explained.

What if I recently recovered from COVID-19?

It’s important to get vaccinated even if you’re already infected, but again, timing is key.

The CDC has long told people to delay getting vaccinated until they are well, but it also says they may consider waiting three months after recovery before getting vaccinated. Also, several CDC advisers say it’s important to wait three months. This is also because you may get more benefit from the vaccination and also because it reduces the chance of heart inflammation, a rare side effect that can affect teenage boys and young men.

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How good are the new boosters?

It’s not clear as testing of this exact recipe has just begun on humans.

FDA approves new booster It is largely based on human studies of a similarly fine-tuned vaccine recently recommended by European regulators. and studies have found that they activate antibodies that fight the virus in people.

As previous omicron versions have now been superseded by BA.4 and BA.5, the FDA has ordered additional tweaks to Shot.

There is no way of knowing if the antibodies produced by the Omicron-matched boosters will last longer than a few months. It is believed that

How do you know they are safe?

The basic ingredients used in both Omicron-targeted modern vaccines are the same. Testing of his BA.1-targeted version by Pfizer and Moderna proved safe in human studies CDC advisers have concluded that additional minor recipe changes are no exception.

Influenza vaccines are updated annually without human trials.

Can I get the new COVID-19 booster and flu shot at the same time?

Yes, one on each arm.

What if I want to wait?

People at high risk for COVID-19 are advised to get a new booster when they are due. After all, BA.5 is still widespread, and hospitalization rates among the elderly have increased since the spring.

According to the CDC, most Americans eligible for a renewed booster have been at least six months since their last dose. This is enough time for another inoculation to elicit a good immune response.

But the original formula offers great protection against serious illness and death, especially after that all-important first booster. It’s not uncommon for people to time boosters and take advantage of temporary jumps in shots to protect against even minor infections.

Wherry, 51, who is in good health, said he has postponed the second booster shot recommended for his age for seven months, until late summer. This was just before traveling abroad knowing the increased risk from the unmasked crowd.

An updated booster is being rolled out now and he plans to evaluate it in 4-5 months. Perhaps another injection will benefit him as his antibody levels start to drop and he plans a holiday get-together.


The Associated Press’ Health Sciences Division is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science Education Division. AP is solely responsible for all content.


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