COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot Questions | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot Questions

COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are available to those with moderate to severely compromised immune systems, anyone 65 or older, those at risk of severe illness or those who may be at risk of infection because of their jobs.

Federal health officials have approved the updated guidelines, including allowing the booster for those who received their second shot of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months earlier.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been approved as boosters for those who are immunocompromised.

Below are some questions and answers about the third round of COVID-19 vaccine shots for those who are eligible.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine booster shot the same as what I already received?

Yes. There isn’t a new vaccine. The booster shot you get will be the same formulation as your previous vaccine shot.

Pfizer trials with immunosuppressed volunteers showed that a third shot produced a fivefold to elevenfold increase in neutralizing antibodies. In other words, the third shot triggered another immune response in the body, providing another layer of protection.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, additional data showed that during the delta variant surge, early volunteers in the Pfizer clinical trials were more likely to get a breakthrough infection than later participants.

Is the risk of side effects greater with the third shot?

Data from volunteers who got the third shot shows that side effects are likely similar to what people experienced after their second dose.

Some have no side effects, and some have side effects that go away in a few days. The vaccines are effective whether you have side effects or not.

On the arm where you got the shot you may feel pain, redness or swelling. Throughout the rest of your body you may experience tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills and fever.

Will there be a booster for the Johnson & Johnson or Moderna vaccines?

According to federal health officials, those who received the Johnson & Johnson or Moderna vaccine likely will need boosters as well, but data is still being collected and will be considered in coming weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If I’m eligible for a booster, can I get it at the same time as my flu shot?

The CDC now advises you can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines such as influenza at the same visit. You’ll need to get them in separate arms or in the same arm two inches apart.

Previously, the CDC had recommended waiting 14 days between vaccinations.

Experience with the COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines has shown that our bodies’ immune response and possible side effects are generally the same regardless of timing.

Why are older people and the immunocompromised getting the booster, but not others?

The CDC in mid-August recommended a third vaccine shot for those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised due to illness or medication to treat their condition. The shot should be given at least 28 days after the second dose.

Data shows that these people don’t always build adequate levels of protection after an initial two-dose round of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, according to the CDC. The data shows they may benefit from receiving an additional dose to develop as much protection as possible against COVID-19.

Similarly, data showed that while the immune response from the second Pfizer shot was still strong in others, a third shot was warranted to help protect those at high risk for exposure or high risk of getting seriously ill.

If breakthrough infections are so mild, why would I need a third shot?

The immune response triggered by the COVID-19 vaccines appears to decrease over time. In addition, the delta variant appears more likely to break through the vaccines’ defenses to raise the risk of mild and moderate disease.

Is the third Pfizer shot something everyone who qualifies should get?

The CDC recommends that the following should get a booster.

The following may get a booster.

  • Those 18 to 49 years old with underlying medical conditions
  • Those 18 to 64 at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting
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