Should I Get a COVID Vaccine Booster?
Although the prevailing mood in the U.S. now is that the worst is behind us regarding COVID-19, the reality is that we are in a holding pattern with the number of vaccinated holding steady and the world dreading the emergence of an even more virulent strain.
On top of a rapidly evolving public health situation that is complicated by a multitude of voices proclaiming conflicting recommendations, there are new factors like the omicron variant that have further confused public health officials as well as the public.
In general, you should get vaccinated immediately, followed by a waiting period before getting your COVID-19 booster shot. The nature of the booster shot may change to accommodate new strains of the virus but having additional immunity against COVID-19 is in everyone’s best interest.
Why You Should Get Vaccinated
You should obtain a vaccine shot as soon as possible for the following reasons:
- The vaccine greatly reduces the chances that you will become infected
- If you do become ill, your chances of suffering severe symptoms are very low
- By lowering your infection chances, you lower the risk to people around you including those who can’t get vaccinated
- By preventing the COVID-19 virus from infecting you, you lower the odds that the virus can multiply and mutate into a more dangerous strain
The COVID-19 vaccines are extremely safe and provide invaluable protection against this fatal illness.
Why You Should Get a COVID-19 Booster
The government has now made the COVID-19 booster shot available to everyone who is over 18 years of age. At least 6 months must have elapsed since your second vaccine shot or at least two months from your first if you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The government has recommended that you get any version vaccine booster that is available to you.
The most important reasons for getting a COVID-19 booster includes
- The immunity conferred by the initial vaccination begins to weaken after 2 to 3 months, so a booster tops off your immunity.
- A booster shot offers additional protection against new variants like delta and omicron.
- Boosters are particularly important for people with weakened immune systems like the elderly.
Should You Wait for New Vaccines?
Some people have expressed concern that getting a booster shot now may put them at a disadvantage if the new omicron variant is able to evade current vaccine antibodies. While it may prove that omicron has some enhanced ability to circumvent current vaccines, it is extremely unlikely that it can totally nullify their efficacy.
It appears from early reporting that the omicron variant does pose some advanced ability to evade at least one of the vaccines, namely Pfizer, but the illness that it produces is not much more severe than the baseline illness.
Combined with the fact that the predominant form of COVID-19 in the United States is the delta variant, which current vaccines neutralize well, you should strongly consider getting a booster as soon as possible.
Furthermore, if a new vaccine for a new variant does become available, it will likely take a few months. If you get a booster now, you can get the updated vaccine as soon as it comes out.
What to Do If You Are Immune Compromised
If you have a weakened immune system due to the following health conditions, then you should take special care to protect yourself from COVID-19:
- You have a chronic condition like rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes.
- You are undergoing a treatment like chemotherapy.
- You have undergone an organ or bone marrow transplant.
- You are elderly.
- You are a habitual smoker.
People with weakened immune systems should discuss what they can do to protect themselves from COVID-19 with their physicians. Unlike most people with healthy immune systems who almost always produce antibodies after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, only a fraction of immunocompromised people will develop an immune response.
Many health experts recommend that people with compromised immune systems should get a third vaccine shot before getting a booster shot. A third dose is identical to the first two doses if you got a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, and this third dose can be administered 28 days after the second shot.
A booster shot may be the same as an initial dose, but the Moderna booster shot only administers 50 percent of the initial dose amount.
What to Expect after You Get a Booster Shot
The CDC is telling people that you should expect a similar response to a booster shot as you had to your second shot. So, if you felt achy and tired after your second dose, expect a similar reaction following your booster shot. The most common reactions include mild arm pain, fatigue, and headache.
Why Now Is the Time to Get a Booster
If you are feeling hesitant about making time to get a booster, you should understand why now is the right time. First, we are heading into the colder months of the year when flu and pneumonia cases rise naturally. Not only are many health care organizations going to be overwhelmed by these non- COVID-19 cases, but testing may be backed up so that it can be difficult to even identify patients with COVID-19. If the number of sick people, with or without COVID-19 exceeds hospital capacity, then you could be turned away.
Secondly, it has been more than six months since most of the U.S. got vaccinated, so the immune response is likely beginning to weaken. Also, this is the holiday season when we tend to gather in close proximity, so the risk of transmission is rising quite a lot.
Finally, it is just wiser to top off your immune system in the face of new COVID-19 variants like delta and omicron. Not only will getting a booster reduce your chances of getting severely sick, it will also prevent the virus from finding a home in your cells, replicating in the millions, and potentially producing a new variant that could pose a threat to your community.
Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care
M.D. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees. The information contained in this article does not constitute medical advice, nor does reading or accessing this information create a patient-provider relationship. Comments that you post will be shared with all visitors to this page. The comment feature is not governed by HIPAA, and you should not post any of your private health information.