A 3rd dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, otherwise known as a booster shot, is currently awaiting expanded use approval from the FDA. Touro Internal Medicine physician, Dr. Schuyler Williams, is here to discuss the latest developments on the COVID-19 vaccine boosters and why receiving a booster vaccine may be necessary.
Why might a vaccine booster be necessary?
The COVID-19 vaccines continue to be very effective in reducing the spread of the virus, as well as reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. However, if the virus evolves further and there are worse variants, a booster can be tailored to target those variants of the virus.
In addition, like many other vaccines, protection against certain virus infections begin to decrease over time following initial doses of vaccination. For that reason, a booster vaccine would be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.
When will the COVID-19 vaccine booster be available?
A third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is currently available under Emergency Use Authorization to immunocompromised individuals. For immunocompromised individuals, specifically, solid organ transplant recipients or those who are diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise. The CDC recommends that these individuals receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after a second dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
The booster vaccine is currently awaiting FDA Emergency Use Authorization approval for individuals 65 years and over and those that are at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, such as healthcare workers. The FDA is expected to grant further authorization this week. Boosters may eventually be open to the general population however, there are no details on this at this moment.
Can people who received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine get a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine?
No. There is not enough data currently to support getting an mRNA vaccine dose (Pfizer or Moderna) if someone has previously received the J&J vaccine. However, it is likely that those who received the J&J vaccine will need a booster dose of that vaccine but since J&J wasn’t given in the U.S. until 70 days after the first mRNA vaccine, the data needed to make this decision is not available yet.
How can we reduce our risk of contracting COVID-19?
The easiest way to protect yourself from contracting and passing COVID-19 is by getting vaccinated. The goal of our efforts has always been to save lives and end the pandemic. The way we do that is with the COVID vaccines – when enough people get the shot, you create a protective bubble against COVID. The fact that we have not created that protective bubble here allows COVID to keep spreading and mutating into more contagious, potentially dangerous strains called variants.
Due to the low vaccination rate in our state and high incidence of COVID positive cases, we recommend that event those vaccinated continue masking, good hand hygiene, and social distancing to stay safe and stop the spread.
For information on COVID vaccinations at Touro call 504.290.5100.