Health experts at the national and global levels are working to get as many people vaccinated against the coronavirus as possible, while simultaneously trying to ensure the immunity in those who’ve already gotten the shot (or shots) remains high and effective.
The job isn’t easy, and trying to communicate what changes are being made while researchers, committees, and government agencies work tirelessly can get difficult, especially when there’s disagreement among the experts.
Here, we detangle some of the information on booster shots.
What is a Booster Shot?
A booster does of a vaccine is an additional dose that is used to “boost” the immune response to a specific virus. It’s not unusual to need a booster vaccine, in fact, we have boosters for many viruses.
For those who received the two-shot Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, it’s recommended some people get a booster dose at least six months after the second shot. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the six months in between your second dose and booster is needed to make the booster shot more effective.
Who is Eligible?
Right now, only people who received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are cleared to get a booster.
CDC recommends people over the age of 65, people living in long-term care facilities, and people between the ages of 50-64 who have underlying health conditions.
Additionally, the agency said that people aged 18-49 with underlying medical conditions, and people aged 18-64 who work or live in high-risk areas might want to consider getting a booster shot. Some of those jobs include: healthcare workers, teachers, daycare workers, and grocery store workers.
People with compromised immune systems have been cleared to get a booster since August.
In total, White House coronavirus chief Jeff Zients said 20 million Americans are currently eligible for a booster shot and that another 60 million may become eligible in the coming months.
Where Do I Get My Booster?
Drug stores like CVS and Walgreens are currently offering booster doses to eligible people.
Does the Booster Shot Have Side Effects?
There’s still research being done but so far the reported side effects from the Pfizer booster is similar to the experience people had during their first round of shots: fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, were the most commonly reported.
What about Moderna and Johnson & Johnson?
So far, the FDA has only approved booster doses for people who received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Johnson & Johnson submitted paperwork this month to show the FDA that a booster dose raises its vaccine effectiveness.
Moderna also submitted data to the FDA to get full approval from the agency, so more information on boosters for both companies may come in the near future.
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