January 14, 2022
3 min. read

COVID-19 Vaccination Booster Shots—Here’s What to Know

Medly

With cases of COVID-19 continuing to rise nationwide, it’s more important than ever to consider getting your booster shot. While vaccines remain effective in preventing serious illness, there is data suggesting that their effectiveness at preventing infection or severe illness wanes over time, especially in people ages 65 years and older.

In addition, the recent emergence of the Omicron variant further emphasizes the importance of taking preventative measures to protect against COVID-19. Getting another shot several months after your first round, otherwise known as a “booster” shot, can help prolong protective immunity, which will supercharge your vaccine’s effectiveness.

covid vaccine booster

But even if you plan on getting your booster, you might still have questions. Are booster shots necessary for everyone? Are you eligible? What about side effects, and how does the flu shot fit into all this? For answers to these questions and more, read below to get the info you need about your booster.

Who can get a booster shot?

According to the CDC, you can get a booster if you are:

  • 18 or older and received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago
  • 18 or older and received both required doses of the Moderna vaccine at least five months ago
  • 12 or older and received both required doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least five months ago

Additionally, if you have a medical condition associated with immunosuppression, you are also eligible to receive an additional vaccine dose.

What are the COVID booster side effects?

A COVID booster shot will help protect you from getting coronavirus. Keep in mind that while you may have some side effects from the booster shot, these are normal signs that your body is building protection against the virus, and if they affect your ability to do daily activities, they should go away in a few days. Serious side effects following your booster are unlikely.

On the arm where you get your shot, common side effects include:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Throughout the rest of your body:

  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea

covid booster

To reduce pain and discomfort in the area where the shot was given, apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area and try to use or exercise your arm as much as you can. To reduce discomfort and fever, dress lightly and drink plenty of fluids.

Can I mix and match my vaccines and booster?

If you are eligible to receive a booster shot, the CDC will allow you to use any of the approved vaccines. This has been shown to be both safe and effective, and, in the case of the J&J vaccine, may help your body provide a strong immune response. Note, however, that teens who are 12 to 17 years old may only get a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster.

Will the booster help against Omicron?

According to a study by researchers at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, an additional booster shot of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine is needed to provide immunity against the Omicron variant. According to both Pfizer and Moderna, they say that preliminary studies show antibody protection is improved with a third dose of their vaccines. But for now, much remains unknown about the variant, and the CDC and FDA are exploring potential Omicron-specific boosters with Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson.

Can I get my flu shot and booster at the same time?

You can get the flu shot and your booster at the same time. Side effects will not be additive or worse if you decide to get multiple shots together. For many patients, getting both shots simultaneously—one in each arm—saves on scheduling multiple doctor’s visits.

With the advent of Omicron, case counts in the United States are doubling in a matter of days. It’s important—now more than ever—to ensure your protection against the virus and its new variant, and boosting is one of the best ways to do so. Check your local resources to see if you can schedule your booster appointment today.

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