One reason COVID-19 continues to spread in waves is that many people remain unvaccinated. This means breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people may increase, especially this winter. Some of these infections may have potentially severe symptoms.
The current COVID vaccines provide good immunity against serious illness, hospitalization, and death. But no vaccine offers “sterilizing immunity.” If they did, no one with a normal immune system would get COVID at all. So, while the current immunizations are really good, none are perfect.
That’s why we have boosters.
Booster shots can increase antibody levels enough to help prevent some new infections and return any breakthrough symptoms to a mild or nonexistent state.
Should I get a COVID-19 booster?
Yes. If you live in Arkansas and already have received a primary mRNA COVID-19 series (two shots) of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson (Jansen) shot, you are eligible to get a COVID-19 booster shot.
You can get a booster if it has been six months since you received the Pfizer or Modern vaccine or two months from the first single dose of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
If you plan to be indoors during the winter months with other people or plan to travel, you should plan to get a booster shot.
Are booster shots the same formulation as existing vaccines?
Yes. COVID-19 booster shots are the same formulation as the current COVID-19 vaccines. But in the case of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, it is half the dose of the vaccine people get for their initial two-shot series.
Which booster should I get?
Anyone eligible can get a booster dose of any of the three authorized vaccines, regardless of which one they initially received.
The CDC and FDA recommend that adult women younger than 50 consider an mRNA booster (Pfizer or Moderna). That’s because J&J’s vaccine can, in rare instances, lead to blood-clotting disorders in some women.
In some younger men, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are associated with heart inflammation, known as myocarditis. That demographic may prefer to get a J&J vaccine.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines, talk to your doctor.