Fact vs. Fiction: Getting the second COVID-19 booster shot

Fact vs. Fiction: Getting the second COVID-19 booster shot
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With COVID-19 cases on the rise again, it’s renewing questions about getting that second booster shot.

So, is it a good idea to get it now or not?

Vax rate for boosters

So far, people are not rushing to get their COVID-19 booster shots.

Roughly half or 46% of those eligible have gotten the first COVID-19 booster.

As for the second, only about 5% of those eligible have gotten it.

Right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recommends the second booster for those 50 and older or those 12 and older who are immunocompromised.

Should you get the 2nd booster NOW?

With COVID-19 cases on the rise again, we asked infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja if it’s important to get it now or wait. He said, it depends.

DR. ADALJA: For the general healthy population, I think a booster provides marginal value and less value in the age of omicron, than it did when delta was circulating.

ANGIE MORESCHI: So, is a booster even worth it now? Since these new variants are milder?

DR. ADALJA: We have to think about what the overarching goal is with COVID-19 vaccinations. And to me the goal has always been prevention of severe disease. So, if you’re getting diminishing returns, boosting healthy people to prevent mild illness, it really makes no sense to continue with that type of a policy.

But Dr. Adalja told Channel 11′s Angie Moreschi that a booster strategy is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

DR. ADALJA: The booster was clearly worth it for high-risk individuals those above the age of 65, those with high-risk conditions. That’s where we really want people to be boosted today. Those people shouldn’t wait — if you’ve got a high-risk condition.

QUESTION: So, is it time to get that 2nd booster?

ANSWER: Yes, for the immunocompromised. Not necessarily, for otherwise healthy people.

Timing for 2nd booster

So, what about the timing for a second booster, especially for people at high risk?

One thing to keep in mind is that research is showing that second booster immunity doesn’t last very long against the omicron variant.

A study out of Israel found protection actually peaked at one month and almost disappeared by two months after the shot.

So — especially for the immunocompromised, if you get the booster now, are you putting yourself at greater risk later, if there’s a fall surge?

DR. ADALJA: You have to think about strategies for vaccinating the high risk and immunocompromised very differently than the general population. They may need more frequent boosting. And right now, I do think if they are due for a second booster. If they’re immunocompromised, they should get that booster, and if there is a need for another booster in the fall, they should get that booster.

QUESTION: If you boost now, could you be at higher risk later, if there’s another surge?

ANSWER: Yes, possibly. Because research is showing second booster immunity does not last more than a couple of months. But experts believe if there is another surge, a third booster could be recommended, especially for those at high risk.

Multiple booster side effects

Which raises the question: Are there more serious complications or side effects when you get additional shots?

DR. ADALJA: There’s no evidence that people who get boosted have any worse side effects than with their original vaccination series.

QUESTION: Are there more serious complications or side effects when you get additional shots?

ANSWER: No, even additional booster shots are considered very safe.

BOTTOM LINE

Bottom line, if you’re healthy, racing to get that second booster now is probably unnecessary. And you might even benefit by waiting, because new boosters are being developed that cover more variants.

But for folks who are at high risk, Dr. Adalja says it’s best not to take a chance. Go ahead and get that booster now to be safe.

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