Covid Fall Booster - Just Do It
Any day the bivalent Covid-19 booster will be available for everyone. Patients are already asking if it's safe and should they get it. The answer is Yes-Just Do It. Here are some common Q&A that you might be wondering. All answers based on data and facts.
Q: I've had one (or two) boosters. Do I need this one?
A: The purpose of the boosters is to increase your antibodies and B cell memory to protect against BA.5 and the upcoming variants. The immune protection wanes over time so this booster is needed, especially with the recent spike we all experienced.
Q: Is it safe?
A: Yes. The technology is exactly the same as previous boosters. This new shot is bivalent, meaning it targets two areas of BA.4 and BA.5, the current variants. Scientists believe the new booster will be even more effective. And the first ones were very effective.
Q: I recently had Covid. Do I need the booster?
A: There is no harm in getting the booster a few weeks after having Covid but waiting at least 3 months and no longer than 6 months is ideal.
If you are at high risk (age, sickly, going to large events, weddings, or travel) get the booster 3-4 months after vaccination or Covid infection.
Q: What kind should I get? Is it good to mix and match for better protection?
A: It doesn't matter what type you had before or what type to get this time. There doesn't seem to be an advantage of mixing so just get the vaccine that is most readily available.
I would recommend young men under age 30 to try and get Pfizer as it has less RNA than the Moderna vaccine and the risk of myocarditis (rare but known) would be less with Pfizer.
Q: What about my child under age 12?
A: The new bivalent vaccine will be here by the end of the year for kids but there is no reason to wait if they have not yet had a booster. Your child age 5-11 can have the third booster now and get good protection for school. Then they can get the updated booster once it is available.
Q: Can I get the flu shot at the same time?
A: Studies have been done and yes, you can get the flu shot in the opposite arm at the same time without any risk. Both vaccines work well together.
Q: What about monkeypox vaccine?
A: The CDC is recommending spacing the monkeypox vaccine (Jynneos) and the Covid booster 4 weeks apart. They are proceeding with caution because of cases of myocarditis in young men with the 2nd generation vaccine for monkeypox. So far this has not been seen with Jynneos but spacing is still recommended.
Hat Tip to Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, epidemiologist, for her great communication about Covid