Millions more Americans just became eligible for a COVID-19 booster, but figuring out who is eligible and when can be confusing — and the challenge is that this time, people can get a different type of vaccine to make up for that extra dose. can.
Several factors, including the vaccines you started and when your last dose was, help determine when you are eligible. Like the initial shots, boosters are free and will be available at pharmacies, doctor’s offices and clinics.
Here are some things to know:
Q: Why is a booster needed?
A: People who have been fully vaccinated still have strong protection against hospitalization and death from COVID-19. But immunity against infection can decrease over time, and the extra-infectious delta variant is spreading widely. US health officials want to shore up protection in at-risk people who were vaccinated months ago – although the priority is not getting their first shots.
Q: Are boosters available for all three vaccines authorized in the US?
A: Yes, Pfizer boosters debuted last month, and this week the government also approved additional doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. But who is eligible — and when — depends on which vaccine you got first.
Q: Can I get a booster now?
A: If you have previously received Pfizer or Moderna shots, you are eligible if your last dose was at least six months ago and you are 65 years of age or older, or are a young adult who has health problems, job or Living conditions put you at higher risk of serious illness or exposure to the coronavirus. The main goal is to give an extra layer of protection to the aged and the medically vulnerable. But factors such as jobs are included because health care workers, for example, are regularly exposed to the coronavirus and cannot come to work with even the mildest infection.
Q: What if I get a J&J shot?
A: Anyone shot in J&K at least two months ago is eligible – regardless of age or other factors.
Q:Why are there different recommendations for different vaccines?
A: One shot of J&J vaccine is less effective than two doses of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, and health officials decided it was important for J&J recipients to achieve the same level of protection. For the time being, J&J had tested more people with a two-month booster than one in six months. For those receiving Moderna or Pfizer vaccinations, it is not clear data whether everyone needs another dose, but immunity against infection has waned around six months in at least some people.
Q: What if I don’t want to wait six months?
A: Experts agree that getting a booster too soon can reduce the benefits. Timing matters because the immune system gradually builds up layers of protection over months, and as that response matures, chances are improved, later doses will provide even stronger protection.
Q: What does it mean to mix and match booster doses?
A: This means a booster that is different from your original vaccination. This allows flexibility in situations like nursing homes where health workers may bring only one type on booster visits. It also gives people at risk of a rare side effect associated with one type of vaccine the option to switch to a different shot.
Q: Should I look for a different vaccine?
A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration did not recommend people to switch but left the option open. Preliminary results from a government study found that an additional dose of any vaccine boosted virus-fighting antibodies, regardless of which shot people had to start with. For those who had originally received the J&K vaccination, the Moderna and Pfizer shots appeared to provide a strong boost. But the researchers cautioned that the study was too small to say that one combination was better than the other, and only measured antibodies when the immune system creates additional layers of defense.
Q: Do I still need a booster to be fully vaccinated?
A: No, the CDC says people are still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after a second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or the single-dose J&J shot.
Q: Will this be my last booster?
A: Nobody knows. Some scientists think that eventually people may get regular COVID-19 shots like we get the annual flu vaccination, but researchers will need to study how long protection from current boosters lasts.
The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.
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