Are booster shots really necessary?
Boosters are being recommended because evidence suggests that protection against mild and moderate COVID-19 decreases over time, especially for those who were vaccinated several months ago. Additionally, there is concern about the new omicron variant.
Who is eligible for a booster shot?
The eligibility criteria for a COVID booster shot can be confusing. However, the following factors should be considered:
- Initial vaccine received
- Time since receiving the initial dose(s)
If you are 12 years or older and have received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at least 5 months ago, you should get a single booster dose. Children aged 12 to 17 should only receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster. If you are 18 years or older and have received two doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 5 months ago, you should get a single booster dose. If you are 18 years or older and have received one dose of the Janssen/Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 months ago, you should get a single booster dose.
How do you determine if you need a booster? Do antibody levels matter?
Your doctor may check your antibody levels, also known as antibody titers, to help make this decision. Antibodies play a crucial role in early infection stages, so they are an important factor to consider.
Do you need a booster if you recently had COVID-19?
COVID-19 immunity is complex, especially for those who have both natural immunity from previous infection and vaccine-induced immunity. It is still unclear how these two types of immunity interact and whether additional protection can be provided. However, it is recommended to eventually receive a booster shot, as the duration of natural immunity is unknown.
If you recently had COVID-19 and are eligible for a booster, it is recommended to wait until your symptoms have resolved and the recommended time has passed since your initial vaccine series (5 months for Pfizer, 6 months for Moderna, and 2 months for J&J). Individuals who received monoclonal antibodies as part of their COVID-19 treatment plan should wait 90 days before getting a COVID booster.