COVID Vaccine Boosters

Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good.

I have to admit, I’m tired of the whole issue of COVID vaccines.  That does not mean I’ve not had mine – I have.  I had my two shot initial series and BOTH boosters. 

But it’s hard to keep up with all the recommendations.  And it’s frustrating the vaccine doesn’t give us long term immunity.  But it’s all we have right now.  So… Is it better to go without because it’s not a perfect vaccine?  NO – don’t let PERFECT be the enemy of GOOD!

Our current COVID vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are very good vaccines – they reduce serious illness, hospitalization and death by around 90%.  And they’re still effective against the latest variants.  But they’re not perfect:

  • Can cause flu like symptoms for few days after administration
  • Don’t stop you from getting COVID
  • Immunity only lasts 4-6 months

Pharmaceutical companies are working diligently on a vaccine that will solve these issues, but we’re not there yet.

  1.  What Happened to Johnson & Johnson Vaccine?

It wasn’t as effective as Pfizer or Moderna so isn’t being given anymore in the US.

  • Who Can Get A First Booster? 

Everyone ages 12 and up can get 1 booster 5 months after completing the primary series with either Pfizer or Moderna.  If your primary shot was with Johnson and Johnson, you’re eligible for a booster after 2 months.

  •  Who Is Eligible For A 2nd Booster?
    • Adults aged 50 and over. 
    • People aged 12 and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised – active cancer treatment, organ transplant recipients, stem cell transplant in last 2 years, primary immunodeficiency syndromes, HIV infection, high dose oral steroids or other immunosuppressive medications
    • People who got 2 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine
  •  When should I get the 2nd booster?

At least 4 months after the first booster.  This is my opinion:  you might want to wait until cases are rising or you’re planning air travel.

  •  Do I need a booster if I’ve had COVID?

Yes.  We know natural immunity lasts at least 90 days.  But after that, it varies significantly by individual.  We’ve seen re-infections at 90 days in some but 6-9 months in others.  Appears we have little natural immunity after 1 year.

  •  Should I “Mix and Match” the vaccine boosters?

There is some data that shows benefit from getting a booster that is DIFFERENT than your original vaccine series.  For example, I had 3 Moderna vaccines (2 initial and 1 booster), so for my 2nd booster I got Pfizer.  It’s a harder question to answer if you had Pfizer as your primary series….that’s because the Moderna booster is only a half dose and I worry it may not provide enough protection.

  •  Where can I get a booster?

I am no longer giving vaccine in my office, but it’s readily available at many pharmacies and some County locations.  You can find locations and schedule appointments or see if they talk walks ins here.

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