Confused about whether to use a COVID booster? Here’s what you need to know

Chris Carlee, a 70-year-old retired nurse living in Clearwater, Fla., worked hard to get a COVID-19 vaccine back in March. She’s not a morning person, but wakes up a few hours earlier than usual for several days to join online appointment booking sites before finally snagging a spot to grab Pfizer


But now Carlee says she’s “in the fence” about whether to get one third COVID-19 scan and is waiting to talk to her doctor about boosters. Her main worry is that she doesn’t see as much data on the safety and effectiveness of the boosters as she did in the first two pictures of Pfizer and Moderna.
+ 11.80%

vaccine when the US Food and Drug Administration approved it last December.

In general, doctors say that older people are eager to get the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as boosters. Almost 86% of Americans are 65 or older are now fully immunized — meaning they have had two shots of Pfizer or Moderna or one shot of Johnson & Johnson
+ 0.35%

vaccines — compared with 70% of Americans 18 years of age and older. And 32% of Americans 65 and older received a booster in just two month because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that this age group get an additional dose six months after the initial immunization.

In Monday, CDC has reinforced their recommendation, says that everyone 18 years of age or older who has been immunized should get a booster shot of COVID.

However, many older adults may want to talk to their doctor, like Carlee, before getting a booster shot.

“I don’t think it’s vaccine hesitancy that drives it, I think it’s just confusion,” said Dr. Preeti Malani, medical director and infectious disease physician at the University of Michigan. COVID-19 fatigue and anxiety about feeling tired after a boost may also play a role. To combat these barriers, doctors are trying to convey some key points about booster injections.

Also see: Christmas markets from Frankfurt to Budapest welcome the holiday season amid a surge in COVID

Back to square without booster

“The main message I’m trying to convey to older patients is that they’re going to get back to normal and back to where they were before,” said Dr. Mark Supiano, professor and chair of the department of gerontology at the University of Utah. Vaccine”. He explained that people 65 and older often have lower levels of antibodies after vaccination, and that drop faster.

Lower antibody levels may be part of the reason older adults are more likely to develop severe COVID-19 breakout infections, which occur after being fully immunized. According to the CDC, nearly 17,000 people who are fully immunized have been hospitalized for COVID-19 as of early October and 67% of them are 65 or older. This age group also accounts for 86% of the approximately 6,600 deaths from sudden infections.

Data shows that boosters are safe and effective

“We know the dosage of the supplement is safe,” says Malani. “Getting vaccinated can be more risky than getting vaccinated,” she adds.

In studies of dozens of people aged 65 and over, those who were Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines that the FDA has reviewed to decide whether to allow an additional dose, side effects similar to those seen after the first doses – mainly pain at the injection site, fatigue, and headache .

Furthermore, thousands of people who took part in the COVID-19 vaccination have yet to experience related side effects clinical experiment who received it? Rocket propulsion. Or, Malani said, of the millions of Americans who have received boosters to date.

As for the effectiveness of the COVID-19 booster, Supiano noted that we know enough to act now, although “the evidence base is not as strong as for the primary vaccine”.

Related: Study finds that masks and physical distancing are the most effective measures in reducing the spread of COVID-19, as experts call on the US to expand its strengthening program

Research in Israel, where boosters were approved in July for older adults, found lower rates of COVID-19 infection and serious illness in many people 60 years of age and older who received an additional dose compared to those who don’t. “I doubt that much data will come out, but we can’t take the risk of waiting [for it],” said Supiano.

5 things to know about COVID-19 boosters

Here’s what we know about the COVID-19 booster:

Experts agree on boosters for older adults. Many doctors was criticize some of the CDC’s guidelines strengthen, especially recommending that adults younger than 65 years of age be given a booster shot if they are at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure while at work. But for people 65 and older, doctors generally agree that they should get a booster shot, Malani said.

Mixing and matching vaccines is fine. “The key message is to get what you can get,” says Supiano. He notes: If you were initially given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, doctors often recommend a Pfizer or Moderna supplement. (The CDC recommends that people who have had Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines get the booster shot after just two months.) But if your first shot was with Pfizer or Moderna, it may not make a big difference. about how safe and effective you get with booster injections. (Learn Currently continuing to address this question.)

It’s the best way to have safe family gatherings. “This year, I really hope that my family can have a pretty normal holiday season,” said Malani. Vaccination is the best way to make gatherings safe – especially giving the first doses to unvaccinated people. However, as Malani tells her patients they need some motivation to get the booster, you can only control what you do, not what your family does.

Even when young children are vaccinated, boosters are still important. Supiano worries that older adults may feel less urgent about getting booster shots because the FDA recently authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. “It’s not either/or ,” he said. “You will still be exposed. If it’s not from one of your kids, it’s going to be from a walk in the grocery store or wherever you happen to be. Unfortunately, there’s still enough COVID-19 out there,” said Supiano.

Find the right moment, and don’t procrastinate. Malani sympathizes with worries about feeling “bad” after a boost. “But that is small compared to the use of COVID-19,” she said. She recommends that patients take the medication easily for a few days after a booster shot. And she advises not to put it off for too long, with the holidays approaching.

Continue reading: The US has seen more COVID deaths in 2021 than it did in 2020 before a vaccine became available, as experts once again warn the pandemic is not over yet

It can seem difficult to buy boosters because not all mass vaccination sites are available for the initial dose, Malani said. But you can find sites near you on Major pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens, as well as county health clinics, are offering appointments for boosters and may also participate.

Carina Storms is a freelance health and science journalist. She has written for CNN Health, Health Affairs, Medium, Nature News, Scientific American, New York Times and other publications. Carina holds a master’s degree in journalism from the NYU Health & Environmental Science Reporting Program and a Ph. in microbiology from Columbia University. She lives in NYC with her husband, young daughter, and two cats.

This article is republished with permission of, © 2021 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

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