COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots – PUBLIC HEALTH INSIDER

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Ask Miss Rona is a series of questions and answers launched on Public Health’s Instagram to answer community questions related to different thematic areas of COVID-19. Questions come from the public and are answered by subject matter experts in public health. Check out our Instagram on @kcpubhealth for other Miss Rona content.

If the vaccine is safe and effective why do we need a booster?

Great question. COVID-19 vaccines have been very effective in providing important protection for most people from serious illness, along with COVID-19, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.

But vaccine protection may decline over time, especially among older people. With the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, high-risk people can maximize protection with a booster shot.

I was fully vaccinated in May, do I have to wait my turn to get the booster or can I do it right away?

It depends if you fall into one of the eligible groups!

All people over the age of 18 who receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can benefit from a booster dose two months after the initial vaccination.

For people who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 6 months ago, the CDC recommends that the following people receive a booster shot:

  • 65 years and over
  • 18+ and live in a long-term care facility
  • 50-64 with certain underlying medical conditions

You can also consider getting a booster shot if you are part of one of the groups listed below, depending on your individual risk factors:

  • 18+ living or working in high-risk environments
  • 18-49 with certain underlying medical conditions

If you are currently not eligible for the booster, hold on! You are very well protected by your initial vaccine series, even in the face of variants like Delta.

Will all adults eventually benefit from booster shots?

At present, there is not enough data to support booster shots for the entire population. Additional populations may be advised to receive a booster shot as more data becomes available. But right now, only approved groups are eligible. However, if you feel you have a higher risk, speak to your regular health care provider or call the COVID-19 Call Center at 206-477-3977.

Is one vaccine better than others as a booster if you have J&J?

A study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently found that following the J&J shot with the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine It could produce a stronger immune response than a second dose of J&J’s vaccine. European research has shown similar evidence.

Additionally, women under the age of 50 should understand the rare but very serious risk of clotting with the use of J&J. Talk to your vaccination provider to get a Moderna or Pfizer booster.

If you have questions about which booster you should get, speak to your doctor or call the COVID-19 Call Center at 206-477-3977.

Can I request the Moderna recall because I originally received the Moderna vaccine?

Yup! You can definitely request Moderna if you originally received the Moderna series.

You can also “mix and match” if you have a preference for a different COVID-19 booster than the initial vaccine (eg, getting a Moderna booster after the J&J vaccine).

Eligible people can get a booster injection with any COVID-19 vaccine available, regardless of whether they received the J&J, Moderna, or Pfizer vaccine for their starting dose.

How long do I have to wait after recovering from COVID to get the recall?

You should wait until you have recovered from COVID-19, have no more symptoms, and are no longer in isolation – around 10 days for most people and around 20 days if you are immunocompromised.

If you’ve gotten completely from COVID-19, feel fine, are no longer in solitary confinement, and are eligible for recall, you should get your recall whenever it’s convenient for you.

If you have been treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure what treatments you’ve received or if you have any other questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Why isn’t natural immunity part of this conversation? It looks better than boosters.

Current recommendations are that people with a previous COVID-19 infection should still receive COVID-19 vaccination. This is because natural immunity and the strength of protection vary greatly from person to person. Furthermore, it is not clear how long the protection from natural immunity will last. Hence, vaccination is the safest bet, regardless of whether you have had COVID or not.

A recent study on COVID patients hospitalized in nine states found that people who have had COVID but are not vaccinated still have five times the risk of contracting COVID-19 and having a serious illness.

Where can I find my booster ?! I’m ready.

Booster shots are available at all King County vaccination sites. You can find a list of sites on kingcounty.gov/vaccine. All King County sites are accessible to the ADA and have ASL language and interpretation available. Most sites offer drop-in vaccination, no appointment required. Requests? Call the King County COVID-19 Call Center: 206-477-3977, 8:00 am to 7:00 pm If you need language interpreting service, speak your preferred language when connected.

Boosters are also available in many clinics, doctors’ offices and pharmacies. You can use the Washington State Vaccine Tracker to find a vaccination site near you: https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov.

The booster vaccinations are free in all locations.

Originally published November 1, 2021

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