Should I Get the COVID-19 Booster?

If you’re immunocompromised because of medical conditions like cancer, or because you’re on treatments or medications that weaken the immune system, you’re now eligible to receive a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That additional dose could raise your antibody levels above the threshold needed for protection against COVID-19.

© (Zowy Voeten/Getty Images) Adil Benabdessadak, who has a transplant, receives the third dose of the Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19 on September 15, 2021 in Ibiza, Spain.

The third COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for people on medications that suppress the immune system, such as certain rheumatology patients or those who’ve undergone a transplant, as well as for cancer survivors.

For the general public, it’s different: If you’re healthy and fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you’ll likely be able to get a booster shot – eventually. However, at issue is whether you really need that additional dose since the initial COVID-19 series already provides excellent protection.

With intense discussion among health experts and regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, booster recommendations for healthy people are a moving target – starting with an all-day FDA meeting on Friday, Sept. 17, to prepare for a nonbinding vote on whether to approve boosters in people ages 16 and older.

Who Is Eligible for a Booster?

On August 13, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed the recommendation for an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. The recommendation from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) encompasses people with immunosuppression who’ve already received an initial two-dose series of an mRNA – Pfizer or Moderna – vaccine.

For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, evidence is still being evaluated and an additional dose is not yet recommended.

People may be immunosuppressed for various reasons, including:

  • Active or recent cancer treatment.
  • Solid organ or stem cell transplant.
  • HIV infection that’s advanced or untreated.
  • Medications such as high-dose steroids, chemotherapy drugs, tumor-necrosis factor (TNF) blockers used to treat inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Medical conditions like chronic kidney disease that can weaken the immune system.

Booster vs. Third Dose

A booster shot causes “B cells” – immune systems cells that make antibodies – to multiply, raise antibody levels again and to produce an even stronger, more rapid response to future virus exposures.

Vaccine experts are emphasizing the difference between a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and a booster shot:

  • Booster shot. A healthy person who gets two doses of the mRNA vaccine develops a good antibody response and a high immunity level against COVID-19, explains Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, a professor in vaccinology and director of the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The booster is given to augment immunity that already exists, should it start to fade after a period of months or a year.
  • Third dose. An immunosuppressed person often fails to reach a basic, protective immune response after those initial two vaccine doses, Neuzil says. Fortunately, she adds, “After three doses, many more of them get there.”

There doesn’t appear to be a major downside to receiving the third dose, with reported side effects similar to the initial COVID-19 vaccine series, so far.

Immunosuppressed – Increased Need for Protection

In a comparison study from Israel involving nearly 500 participants – about half of whom had cancer and half who were healthy – those with cancer produced antibodies more slowly than other people after receiving the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. However, the antibody rate improved for cancer patients after the second dose in the study, published July 8 in the journal JAMA Oncology.

Now, a good third-dose response is being seen in early studies:

  • Administration of a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine “significantly improved the (ability to elicit an immune response) of the vaccine, with no cases of COVID-19 reported in any of the patients” for 101 patients with solid organ (kidney, liver, lung, heart or pancreas) transplants, in a study published August 12 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
  • Similarly, a third dose of the Moderna vaccine produced an increased COVID-19 antibody response in another study of 120 solid-organ transplant patients. The response rate was 55% among those who received the additional dose, versus 18% who received a placebo injection in the comparison study.

Third-Dose Details for mRNA Vaccines

Right now, third dose have only been evaluated for the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines available.

“A lot of people ask if the booster is going to be any different than the first two doses, and right now it’s not,” says Dr. Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention for the Johns Hopkins Health System and an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.

“It’s the same vaccine, although the companies are working on versions maybe for future boosters that will be targeted at certain variants, things like that,” Maragakis says. “But right now, boosters are an additional dose of the existing vaccine. “

Ideally, the third COVID vaccine should be the same as the first two, according to ACIP recommendations. So, if you initially received two Pfizer doses, the third dose would optimally also be Pfizer – or a third Moderna dose if you initially received two Moderna doses. However, if that’s not feasible, using either of the mRNA vaccines is permitted for the third dose.

In terms of timing, the third dose should be given at least 28 days after the initial COVID-19 vaccine series is completed.

No Side Effects for Cancer Patients

“It’s a really important statement that the CDC has authorized the third dose, the emergency use authorization, in the setting of immunocompromised patients,” says Dr. David Cohn, chief medical officer at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, a professor in gynecologic oncology and a practicing gynecologic oncologist.

“Patients who are immunocompromised at baseline have a higher risk of contracting COVID because their immune systems are weakened,” Cohn says. “And if they were to get COVID, they’d have a higher rate of severe complications or death, and hospitalization from COVID. So, it’s a really important population to target.”

Cancer patients are eager to get the extra protection an additional dose could afford. “When we offered vaccination for our cancer patients, they were the first ones in line when their number got picked by the state of Ohio, and I’m sure it’s the same across the country,” Cohn says. “They were really excited to get back to some level of normalcy. And when the CDC authorized the third dose for this population, they were literally lined up at our door waiting to be vaccinated again.”

Third doses are going smoothly. “Anecdotally – because we vaccinated thousands of individuals already in our cancer hospital – we’ve not noticed any significant differences in the rates of severe reactions, which are extremely rare, or side effects at all from the third vaccine,” Cohn says.

Authorization for the extra dose took several steps. “The process is that the FDA provides their recommendation,” Cohn says. “The ACIP, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the CDC, then supports the recommendation to the CDC – who is the one that’s actually the approver for emergency use in the immunocompromised patients.”

Boosters for the General Population?

If you’re healthy and fully vaccinated, whether you should get a booster is less clear-cut. Although the Biden administration originally announced plans to start booster shots for the general public by late September, some health agencies like the World Health Organization are pushing back and questioning the need for boosters when COVID-19 protection from the initial series is still strong.

On Sept. 13, a viewpoint article published in The Lancet argued that with vaccine effectiveness averaging 95% even against the Delta variant in the general population, evidence to date may not justify the need for a booster for healthy people. The priority should be using vaccines to provide initial protection to the unvaccinated, which would do the most good by preventing the continuing evolution of COVID-19 variants, authors concluded.

In the most recent update on the CDC website, “Not immediately” is the response to “When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster?”

Although the goal is for people to start receiving the booster beginning in the fall, it’s subject to FDA authorization and recommendation by APIC, following an independent FDA evaluation of safety and effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines.

Once approved, individuals would be eligible to receive the COVID-19 booster starting eight months after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The same groups who were first eligible for the initial vaccine series because of their higher risk – such as health care providers, residents of long-term care facilities and other older adults – would likely be the first eligible for the booster shot.

Staying Vigilant

If you get the third dose, continue to practice caution. “The safest guidance for those at the highest risk for contracting COVID or getting severe disease from COVID is still to be vaccinated and act unvaccinated,” Cohn says. “The kind of guidance has protected a lot of people. Although, if we lived in a society where everyone was vaccinated, I’d be telling a very different story.”

Although the discussion has moved to third doses and booster vaccinations, an ongoing issue is that some people are not vaccinated at all.

For people who are immunocompromised, and made the proactive effort to the third dose, “It’s also really important that their caregivers and close contacts are also vaccinated,” Cohn says. “Because that’s probably the biggest risk that they’re going to see. If they do everything to control their environment, not going out to the grocery store or putting themselves at risk – if their contacts and family members are unvaccinated, that still puts them at enormous risk for becoming infected with COVID-19.”

Copyright 2021 U.S. News & World Report

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Grand Ole Opry Has Put on a Show Nearly Every Saturday Since 1925

The Grand Ole Opry House It’s just a number. Some folks may say that about the Grand Ole Opry’s 5,000th Saturday show on Oct. 30. But Bill Anderson, who fought back ... Read more »

Snoop Dogg Honors Late Mother Beverly Tate With ‘Stand By Me' Sing-Along

Snoop Dogg Snoop Dogg played a DJ set in Boston over the weekend just hours after his mother, Beverly Tate, passed away. To honor the author and evangelist — who ... Read more »

LA Phil unveils new Inglewood YOLA concert hall for youth

The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, or YOLA, celebrated the official opening of its new home in Inglewood this week. “The concert hall is amazing,” said Luis ... Read more »

Pandemic heroes honored at Zion's Youth Symphony & Chorus concert

© Provided by KSNV – Las Vegas Under the direction of conductor David Skouson, Zion’s Youth Symphony & Chorus (ZYSC) is delighted to be back at The Smith Center to ... Read more »

Dolores Huerta Middle School Principal Jennifer Meglemre Nominated for ACSA Exemplary Woman in Education Award

Dr. Jennifer Meglemre, Principal of Burbank’s Dolores Huerta Middle School, has been nominated for the Association of California School Administrators Exemplary Woman in Education Award.  Formed in 1971, the ACSA ... Read more »

Saweetie Speaks To Entrepreneurship Class At Alma Mater University Of Southern California

© Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Saweetie visited her Alma Mater, the University of Southern California, and dropped some Icy Girl gems on an entrepreneurship class. The Bay-area representative shared information with ... Read more »

Barbara Rose Shuler, Intermezzo: Bach Festival adapts in surreal times.

After 27 months of musical deprivation, Carmel Bach Festival fans returned Saturday night to Sunset Center to savor the sonorities of Bach and Handel in person.  London-based maestro Paul Goodwin ... Read more »

Adele & Greg Kurstin Team Up at No. 1 on Hot 100 Songwriters & Producers Charts

Adele, Greg Kurstin Adele and Greg Kurstin tie at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Songwriters chart (dated Oct. 30), each leading for the first time thanks to their work ... Read more »

Arts Advocates Gifted 'Doughboy' Statue From Colson Family

SARASOTA, FL — Sculptor Frank Colson’s wife and son have gifted the Arts Advocates organization with a 12-inch bronze replica sculpture of “Spirit of the American Doughboy.” © Courtesy of ... Read more »

Get Out Of Town!: Grand Performances At Downtown Los Angeles' California Plaza

Live music shows are back and the City of Los Angeles has a whole summer’s worth of free outdoor concerts to share. Ethio Cali, a Los Angeles-based Ethiopian Jazz ensemble, ... Read more »

Biden's unpopularity may undercut New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's reelection plans

President Joe Biden stood before a backdrop of trains in Kearny, New Jersey, earlier this week to make the case for his embattled infrastructure and reconciliation bills. He also hoped ... Read more »

Striking John Deere worker killed in traffic accident reporting to picket line

A John Deere worker who was taking part in the ongoing strike was killed in a traffic accident while walking to the picket line on Wednesday morning, the United Auto ... Read more »

Woman Claims Texas Restaurant Segregated Black and White Customers in Viral Video

A viral clip, showing a restaurant dining room apparently separated by race, has gone viral on TikTok. The video, so far viewed over 185,000 times, has sparked a vicious debate ... Read more »

One Very Big Problem With the Democrats' Billionaires Tax

This article is part of the The DC Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter. Sign up here to get stories like this sent to your inbox every weekday. © Drew Angerer—Getty Images ... Read more »

Amazon announced its best-selling Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals – will you get them all?

© Provided by BGR Amazon package at front door step on brick steps Every single year, Amazon makes a huge announcement after its big Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales ... Read more »

Criminal charges against Alec Baldwin not ruled out: DA

Criminal charges against actor Alec Baldwin, who shot dead a cinematographer and wounded the director on the set of his latest movie, have not been ruled out, the local district ... Read more »

Biden approval in NJ sinks to 43% just days before state election

© Provided by Daily Mail Joe Biden won New Jersey in the 2020 presidential race by 16 points President Joe Biden‘s approval numbers are underwater in the blue stronghold of ... Read more »

I got Botox for the first time. Here are 7 things that surprised me about the procedure.

© Marisel Salazar Botox helped with my jaw pain and swelling. Marisel Salazar Aside from minimizing the appearance of wrinkles, Botox can be used to treat sore, swollen jaws. I ... Read more »

Waiting list registrations and liver transplants linked to alcoholic hepatitis surge during COVID-19 pandemic

Waiting list registrations and liver transplants linked to alcoholic hepatitis have increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to researchers.  In a recent study from the University of Michigan published ... Read more »

One man pleads guilty to drug charge in connection with Mac Miller's death

One of the three men arrested in connection with rapper Mac Miller’s death has pled guilty to the distribution of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, and now faces up to 20 ... Read more »

5 Common Causes of Kidney Disease, According to Nephrologists

Your kidneys may be small, but boy, are they crucial. Their job is to remove waste and excess fluid from your blood. They also control the amount of nutrients in ... Read more »

Here's Why Cortexyme Is Imploding on Wednesday

© Provided by The Motley Fool Here’s Why Cortexyme Is Imploding on Wednesday What happened Shares of Cortexyme (NASDAQ: CRTX), a clinical-stage biotechnology company, are collapsing in response to a clinical ... Read more »

Baker Mayfield says it's "absolutely" possible he plays Sunday

Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Baker Mayfield is planning his return, saying Wednesday it is “absolutely” possible he plays against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8. © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY ... Read more »

Who is Mike White? Jets' QB to start ahead of Joe Flacco, injured Zach Wilson

Sam White will make his first NFL start for the Jets during their Halloween matchup against the Bengals on Sunday.  The Jets confirmed on Wednesday that White will start over ... Read more »

Mercedes EQC Might Finally Come Stateside After Weird Last-Minute Reversal

Mercedes’ first serious electric vehicle, the EQC crossover, was originally supposed to establish Merc’s EQ sub-brand in North America. Earlier this year, though, after letting our editor-in-chief drive it, Mercedes ... Read more »

Lucid Will Deliver Its First Cars This Weekend

© Lucid Lucid is delivering the first examples of the Air Dream Edition sedan this weekend, and customers are going on the first Lucid Rally with company leaders. First deliveries ... Read more »

McCain blasts Graham for refuting funeral remark about Kushner, Ivanka Trump

Conservative pundit Meghan McCain tore into Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Wednesday after he refuted assertions she made about who was invited to attend her father’s 2018 funeral. © Getty ... Read more »

Bucs HC Bruce Arians: Antonio Brown's ankle injury could be 'more long term'

The ankle injury that kept Antonio Brown out of the Buccaneers’ Week 7 game could sideline him for a while. Brown was spotted on crutches Wednesday, and Bruce Arians said ... Read more »

FIFA 22: How to complete FUT Silver Stars Miguel Layun Objectives challenge

In addition to a new Team of the Week, EA Sports and the FIFA team released a new FUT Silver Stars challenge on October 27. FIFA players now have the ... Read more »

VALORANT Prime Gaming weapon skins coming next year

© Provided by Dot Esports VALORANT players can expect to see exclusive Prime Gaming weapon skins in 2022. A new partnership between Prime Gaming and Riot Games was announced earlier ... Read more »

LeBron James injury update: Will Lakers star play in game vs. Thunder?

The Lakers aren’t taking any chances when it comes to LeBron James’ health. After the four-time NBA MVP suffered an ankle injury in Sunday’s game between Los Angeles and Memphis, ... Read more »

League player secures 3 kills, levels up twice in 6 seconds

© Provided by Dot Esports Showing up to a teamfight in League of Legends without your ultimate ability is never advantageous. But, when you gather just enough experience to level ... Read more »

Do footprints count as fingerprints in Phasmophobia?

One of the signature pieces of evidence a ghost can leave behind in Phasmophobia is their fingerprint. You have the chance to find it shortly after a spirit has interacted ... Read more »

Everyone Will Be Fighting Over The Last Bite Of This 10-Minute Garlic-Sesame Sautéed Spinach

This easy sautéed spinach recipe is our take on the classic Korean banchan (aka side dish) sigeumchi namul, which is typically made using blanched spinach. The rich flavor of toasted ... Read more »

Cleared for Takeoff: Booking a luxurious celebration in The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos

© Provided by The Points Guy MSN has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. MSN and The Points Guy may receive a commission from ... Read more »

Rep. Ilhan Omar Reflects on Prince's Legacy and How His Achievements Give Others a 'Sense of Limitlessness'

One of the lawmakers behind an effort to posthumously honor Prince with a Congressional Gold Medal says the experience of introducing the required legislation is “surreal.” © Provided by People ... Read more »

9 things to do when you get the Amex Business Platinum Card

© Provided by The Points Guy MSN has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. MSN and The Points Guy may receive a commission from ... Read more »

Senators urge Biden to waive sanctions on India over Russian defense system purchase

Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) urged President Biden to waive sanctions against India for purchasing Russia’s air defense system. © Greg Nash Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) leaves ... Read more »

You Can Get Bedding From the Same Manufacturer That Makes The Ritz-Carlton's Sheets — for as Much as 80% Off

If you’re a person who values quality above all else, then Italic is the brand you need to know about. Famous for creating handbags from the same factories as Prada, ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic