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Do you need a COVID booster shot?

Whether or not to get the COVID vaccine at all has become a polarizing topic, but from a medical standpoint, the answer is clear: let’s make sure we’re all doing our part to protect those who can’t be vaccinated and to end this pandemic. Those people who have already been fully vaccinated, though, may be wondering if they need to get a booster.

“Now that the FDA has approved [the booster shot], it’s an important tool for certain individuals,” says Bronwen Garner, M.D., chair of Piedmont’s Infectious Disease Clinical Governing Council.

Those individuals include people with autoimmune conditions or any disease that affects the lungs, transplant recipients and people over the age of 65. As Dr. Garner points out, as we get older, our immune systems age, too.

There are other people whose work puts them at higher risk for infection, also, such as teachers and healthcare workers. Many of them are regularly in contact with people who can’t be vaccinated, such as young children and medically vulnerable patients. If they get the booster shot, it lowers their risk both of catching the virus from an unvaccinated individual and of transmitting it back out into the larger community.

Does the need for booster shots mean the vaccine doesn’t work?

Contrary to popular belief, people don’t need booster shots because the original vaccine failed. It’s simply that some people’s bodies may not have made enough antibodies from the first round of shots. The purpose of the vaccine and the booster is twofold, explains Dr. Garner: “It gives your system more ammunition on the outside, to protect against COVID, and if you do get it, your body will be able to clear the infection much faster.” Even with the Delta variant on the rise in recent months, she says, “Patients who were vaccinated had a better reaction.”

Furthermore, while it will take time for the scientific community to complete its testing, vaccinating against COVID does seem to reduce the chance of transmission.

When should I get a booster shot?

If you first received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccination, you can get a booster at least 6 months after your second shot. If you first received the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine, you can get a booster at least 2 months after your second shot. As for which booster you should get, it doesn’t matter. You can choose any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States.

To make an appointment with a Piedmont physician and save time, book online.

 

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