Should I Get A COVID-19 Booster Shot?

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If you’ve had two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least six months ago, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago, it may be a good idea to get a “booster” dose. 

"Efficacy of vaccine antibodies may decrease around six to eight months, and while they are still highly effective against hospitalization, getting a booster can increase your protection against COVID-19," says Dennis Cunningham, M.D., medical director of infection control and prevention at Henry Ford Health System. "Especially if you are immunocompromised." 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently said he wouldn't be surprised if the full, optimal regimen of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines ends up including a third shot, as it may provide a more durable immune response.   

Additional doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines are safe and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Certain age groups, those with certain health conditions, and those who work in high-risk environments are eligible to get a booster shot.

Not sure whether you should get one? Follow the CDC’s below guidelines

Determining If You Should Get A Vaccine Booster

Anyone who is 18 years and older and received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago is eligible to receive a booster shot. While not yet independently peer reviewed, research shows that getting a booster dose can increase their protection to almost that of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. And especially if that booster dose is Moderna. 

Anyone who received their last Pfizer or Moderna shot at least six months ago and falls within the below categories is eligible to receive a booster shot:

  • Ages 65 years and older
  • Ages 18 years and older who live in long-term care settings
  • Ages 18 years and older who have underlying medical conditions, such as cancer, chronic diseases like kidney and liver diseases, diabetes, Down syndrome, heart conditions, HIV, obesity, weakened immune systems and mental health conditions.
  • Ages 18 years and older who work or live in high-risk settings. This includes healthcare workers, education staff, first responders, grocery store workers, postal and public transit workers, food and agriculture workers, corrections workers and manufacturing workers. 
  • Anyone who has a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more. 

“Side effects of the booster dose are very similar to what you see with your initial doses,” says Dr. Cunningham. “Injection-site pain, fever, chills, and headache may be common, but they should go away within 24 to 48 hours.” 

Mixing Booster Doses

It is safe to mix booster doses. This means that if you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for your first dose, you can receive the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine for your second dose. If you received the Pfizer vaccine for your first two doses, you can receive the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine for your third dose. And if you received the Moderna vaccine for your first two doses, you can receive the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine for your third dose. 

The booster doses are the same formulations as the initial doses, but in the case of Moderna, the dosage is half that of what people receive for their first two doses. 

Expanding Booster Shot Eligibility 

While people in the above categories are more urgently recommended get a booster dose, the CDC and FDA may soon recommend that everyone get a booster dose.  

“If you’re immunocompromised or if you had Johnson & Johnson for your first dose, getting an additional dose is really important,” says Dr. Cunningham. “For others, when you’re able to, I’d lean on the side of getting a booster dose. It’s not going to hurt you—it can only help boost your protection and the protection of those around you.” 

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For more answers to questions about COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses, visit henryford.com/coronavirus/vaccine-faqs.

To find a doctor at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-436-7936.

Dr. Dennis Cunningham is the medical director of infection control and prevention at Henry Ford Health System.  

 

Categories: FeelWell