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Why Now Is the Perfect Time to Get Your Booster

 

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Booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines are still optional for many of us, but evidence is mounting that if you haven’t gotten one yet, you’d probably be better off if you did.

One important reason is Omicron. This new variant might be less susceptible to the immunity we get from vaccines; it’s definitely less susceptible to the immunity we get from a previous infection.

Pfizer announced the results of a study on antibody levels in people who got either two or three doses of the vaccine. Three doses provide as much protection against Omicron as two doses provide against other variants. This study only involved a small number of people—and it didn’t test real-world infection rates, just antibody levels in the lab—so it’s not possible to say whether the vaccine is actually less effective against Omicron. But the fact that a booster increased antibody levels is a good sign.

With this in mind, it’s worth revisiting the recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine booster doses:

  • If you got Johnson & Johnson, you should get a booster dose two months after your first one.
  • If you got one of the mRNA vaccines—Moderna or Pfizer—you should get a booster six months after your second dose if you are over 50 or live in a long-term care facility.
  • If you got one of the mRNA vaccines—Moderna or Pfizer—and you are immunocompromised, you should get a third dose a month after your second. Six months after that, you can get a booster, which would be your fourth shot.
  • If you don’t fall into any of the categories above, you still may get a booster six months after your second dose, as long as you are 18 or older. Boosters are not yet authorized for children or teens.

To be clear about the timelines, all of these recommendations are a minimum time to wait. So if it’s been six months since your J&J shot rather than two, you can still go ahead and get a booster. (There’s no word yet as to whether we might require more boosters in the future; we’re only discussing single booster doses so far.)

The booster seems to improve your immunity within days to weeks, so if you got a booster shot now, you’d have two full weeks before Christmas gatherings. If you have gotten your booster, but you have family coming to visit who may not have gotten theirs, now might be a good time for a friendly reminder text. And in case you were wondering: Yes, you can get caught up with your flu shot at the same time.

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