COVID vaccine booster shots have recently become available for almost everyone. At first, it was mostly those at higher risk who were getting booster shots, such as immunocompromised individuals.
Now, more and more people are opting to get their 3rd dose of the vaccine (the booster shot) despite the booster not being mandatory, and despite not being a higher-risk individual.
The importance of COVID vaccine booster shots in the fight against the pandemic is quite significant, and we’ll be discussing the reasons why below.
Some people would rather avoid getting additional injections beyond the two initial doses of the COVID vaccine. However, booster shots are something we should all be seriously considering.
As noted in Scientific American’s recent article Boosters Can Help End The COVID Pandemic, the need for booster shots doesn’t mean the original vaccines aren’t working. The effectiveness of COVID vaccine booster shots simply shows that our immune systems rely on repeated, well-timed exposure to vaccinations to produce a longer-lasting foundation for protection. Booster shots are also crucial for bolstering our immune systems against the variants of the virus.
Since variants and mutations of the virus can sometimes be resistant to vaccines, the booster shot is just one extra step in enhancing our immunity to COVID-19.
We’re remaining cautiously optimistic that the worst of the pandemic may be behind us. However, the reality is that we’re not out of the woods yet, and there’s a lot of work to do before we are in the clear.
The COVID-19 booster vaccine is the 3rd dose of the vaccine that becomes available after a person has completed the initial two-dose vaccine series for the pandemic.
In order to travel or eat at restaurants, people in most parts of the world had to be double-vaccinated.
So far, the booster shot hasn’t been necessary or mandatory in that sense, and not having the booster shot therefore hasn’t been impacting one’s life very much.
Booster shots simply offer an additional dose of the vaccine given after the protection offered by the original two doses has begun to decrease.
Essentially, a booster vaccine is a “top-up” of the antibody-mediated immune response to the vaccines you initially received against the virus.
While all vaccines can help trigger immunity, how long this immunity lasts depends on various factors. One of those factors is how quickly the virus replicates and mutates, creating new variants.
As new variants of the COVID-19 virus continue to appear across the globe, the importance of COVID vaccine booster shots continues to be emphasized. According to an Associate Professor of Medicine for the Infectious Diseases Division at Emory University School of Medicine, COVID vaccine booster shots could even be the key to breakthroughs that help to ensure longer-term immunity in the future.
Initially, booster shots were recommended for those who needed additional protection against the COVID virus.
First priority access to booster shots were given to these higher-risk individuals. The COVID vaccine booster shots were intended to improve the response of immunocompromised individuals to their initial vaccination. However, the FDA recently expanded the EUA of the COVID vaccine in 2021 to include booster shots for almost everyone.
Now, the CDC advises administering these booster shots to anyone who is:
If you’re eligible for a booster but aren’t convinced you should have another dose, the best thing you can do is speak to your doctor. For the most part, everyone is advised to get a booster shot. However, your doctor may be able to conduct an antibody test to demonstrate your risk level.
Booster shots play an important role in our protection against the COVID-19 virus. According to Dr. Francis Collins, while variants such as the Delta mutation have played a role in the resurgence of the COVID infection, waning immunity is an important factor as well.
In an Israeli study, booster shots drove down severe cases of COVID-19 deaths, and reduced infections in middle-aged, and senior citizens. The research also revealed booster shots helped prevent new infections for people aged 16 to 29.
Another study, which tracked people 50 and older for up to eight weeks, found a similar level of protection from booster shots. Those who got a booster were 10 times less likely to die of COVID-19 than their vaccinated peers who didn’t get the third booster shot.
It’s difficult to say at present whether a booster vaccine will eliminate the COVID pandemic completely.
It’s unlikely that booster shots will become responsible for ending this pandemic. It’s more likely to be a combination of factors (including vaccinations) that helps us end the pandemic.
Further research into the use of vaccines to fight against this virus, however, will certainly be essential to building long-term immunity.
The research studies conducted in Israel, and emerging studies in other parts of the world, suggest that an extra dose of the vaccination could make a significant difference. If widely used, boosters shots could slow viral transmission, stave off additional waves of serious illness, and even help prevent COVID-related deaths.
Pfizer and BioNTech have already highlighted the importance of booster vaccinations in protecting citizens against the evolving pandemic. The two companies acknowledged two doses of their vaccine may not be enough to “protect against infection with the Omicron variant.”
Pfizer further revealed laboratory tests showing three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine does offer better protection against Omicron. Initial observations out of Israel show similar results.
Everyone’s individual risk and health profile is different, which is why some healthier individuals with strong immune systems might assume they may not need the booster shot as much as others.
The COVID-19 vaccination series on its own has already been proven to elicit robust antibody protection against the pandemic in most people. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be indefinitely protected if you’re vaccinated.
Generally speaking, anyone eligible for an additional dose of the vaccine should strongly consider getting their booster. A booster shot is a low-risk, high-reward choice for those who want to stay as thoroughly defended as possible.
The CDC even recently updated its recommendations for vaccinated Americans, saying that staying “up-to-date” with vaccinations means also getting a booster shot.
In addition to delivering better protection for your immune system, a booster shot also helps your loved ones feel more comfortable being close to you, because you’re triple vaccinated.
A booster shot offers an extra layer of protection to prevent the spread of the virus to people who are more vulnerable.
In some parts of the world, it may become essential to get a booster shot if you wish to travel or attend various concerts or events. In the UK, for instance, admittance to concerts and opportunities to travel are said to potentially become reliant on individuals holding a full “vaccine passport”, which will include all 3 doses of the vaccine, including the booster shot.
Since what’s considered a ‘full vaccine passport’ is currently just the initial 2 doses of the vaccine for most countries, but some countries have said they might change this to all 3, you might be better off getting the booster shot just in case the rules change.
One of the most common questions people should be asking right now isn’t whether they should get the booster, but which booster vaccine they should consider.
Anyone who is eligible for a booster shot of the vaccine can get a dose of any of the three authorized vaccines, regardless of the vaccine they initially received.
The correct vaccine for your needs will depend on your specific situation. Speaking to your doctor before you get your booster shot will allow you to make a more informed choice. However, most experts recommend women younger than 50 should consider an mRNA booster from Moderna or Pfizer, as the J&J vaccine can rarely lead to blood clotting issues in this demographic.
In a similar vein, mRNA vaccines are associated with higher rates of inflammation in the heart (myocarditis) for younger men, but these outcomes are very rare.
Each different type of COVID test has its own pros and cons. Being armed with the above information helps you figure out which type of test is best for you. If you need rapid results, for example the PCR test might not be your best bet.
Implementing safety precautions (such as regularly testing your COVID status) is important, especially since we all want this pandemic to be over. Since COVID often has no symptoms, this makes COVID tests even more important to conduct.
Explore the variety of reliable COVID-19 testing solutions from Project Screen, and get at-home COVID tests to use at your convenience, or pre-departure tests for your travels.
Overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic is a process that requires commitment, discipline, and consistency from all of us. The booster may not be something you look forward to, but it’s another important factor in moving towards a healthy, safe, and more normal way of life.
In addition to getting your booster vaccine, remember that it’s also important to continue testing yourself for COVID at home, so you can protect yourself and your loved ones in the long term. Knowing your COVID status helps you keep yourself and others safe.
Since many people don’t experience symptoms of COVID, regularly taking quick at-home COVID tests is pertinent.
Explore the variety of reliable COVID-19 testing solutions from Project Screen, and get reliable COVID tests to use regularly at-home for peace of mind or pre-departure testing for your travels.