It’s Fall – Time for your Covid Booster!
As Fall rolls in, so have the new COVID-19 boosters. MRNA technology has made it possible for a new bivalent booster to be developed that is tailored to protect not only against the original COVID-19 virus but its most dominant circulating sub-variants BA4 and BA.5. The CDC is recommending that all those eligible make arrangements to get their Covid boosters in the coming weeks and months. The boosters which are now available in pharmacies, doctors’ offices and community centers continue to be free of charge. Immunologists are confident that if enough of the population get their boosters in the next month or so, it will go a long way towards dampening any major outbreaks this fall and winter and help lower mortality rates which are at about 500 cases a day. The elderly stand to gain the most with protection from boosters as their immune response to previous boosters has likely worn off. Healthy young people, who are the least likely to be hospitalized or have serious illness, are the biggest spreaders of Covid and are recommended to get boosted to protect those more vulnerable around them. Higher levels of overall immunity can also lower the numbers of the population who will suffer from the devastating effects of long Covid which can affect young and old alike. In terms of eligibility, all those over 12 years of age are eligible for the Pfizer Bio-N-Tech shot if they have had an initial shot or booster at least two months ago. Adults 18 years or older are eligible for the Moderna booster if it has been two months since the last booster or vaccination. Some immunologists are recommending that people wait a little longer (4 – 6 months after immunization or a Covid infection) to allow the body to generate a strong immune response. The real world data on the effectiveness of bivalents won’t be available until this next round of immunizations. Just as each year a new flu shot is developed, the effectiveness of the shot is assessed half way through the season as the data comes in. The ingredients of the Covid vaccine boosters have not changed but are just reconfigured to give the vaccine the best chance to combat Covid in its latest reiteration. Going forward, there is still no degree of certainty on whether this will be the last booster shot needed or whether this will be an annual rite of passage. If there is a large enough percentage of the population who get vaccinated or boosted, it gives the virus less hosts to infect, damaging its upward trajectory and ability to further mutate. So, let’s help each other here — roll up your sleeves and get boosted!
PS: I just got mine!