The COVID-19 vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect yourself and your family from serious illness from COVID-19. Because vaccine effectiveness can decrease over time, additional boosters can help keep your immune system strong.
In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended a new, bivalent booster vaccine for COVID-19. The bivalent booster protects against both the original and omicron strains of COVID-19.
“As we get closer to winter, staying up to date on vaccinations is more and more important. That includes getting both updated COVID-19 boosters and flu shots. These diseases circulate more in the winter months, so getting vaccinated now is critical.”
About the COVID-19 Vaccine
COVID-19 vaccines prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Keeping up to date with vaccines offers the best chance at protection from disease. In the case of COVID-19, this includes getting recommended boosters.
There are currently four approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S.:
- Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine for certain situations
Side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters include:
- Body aches
- Sore, swollen arm at the vaccination site
- Swollen lymph nodes
These signs all indicate that the vaccine is working and generating a response from your immune system.
What are COVID-19 Boosters?
COVID-19 boosters help your immune system maintain its protection against the virus as your immunity naturally decreases over time. CDC data shows that COVID-19 vaccines and boosters both lower the risk of infection and can help prevent hospitalization from severe illness.
New boosters protect against new variants of COVID-19 and offer better protection against the omicron variant.
The bivalent vaccine booster targets two strains of the omicron variant which made up most of U.S. cases in recent months. The new vaccine also targets the original COVID-19 strain.
There are currently two authorized booster shots available:
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent
- Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent
Before these new authorized vaccines, all COVID-19 vaccines were monovalent and protected only against the original strain of COVID-19. These monovalent vaccines will no longer be available as boosters for patients over 12 years old, though they will remain the recommended primary series for all patients.
Who is Eligible for COVID-19 Boosters?
It would be best if you got updated vaccines as soon as you are eligible. Booster recommendations vary based on age, preexisting health conditions and previous vaccinations. Most people over age five are eligible for boosters. See current CDC recommendations based on your vaccination series.
If you are immunocompromised, vaccine recommendations may vary. For example, because individuals with some preexisting conditions are at higher risk for severe COVID-19, you may receive both additional doses and boosters on a specific schedule. Learn more about CDC recommendations for people who are immunocompromised. Speak with your healthcare provider to help answer any questions you have about your vaccination schedule.
When Should I Get Vaccinated?
Generally, wait at least two months after receiving your primary COVID-19 vaccination series (generally two doses) before getting your booster. If you have previously had COVID-19, you should still receive a booster. Wait up to three months after symptoms first develop or after testing positive.
As the holiday season approaches, it is also important to consider the timing of travel and other events.
Full protection takes about two weeks after vaccination, so it’s important to get the vaccine as soon as possible before holiday activities start.
Find a COVID-19 vaccine near you
COVID-19 vaccinations are free and widely available at pharmacies and vaccination sites across Shelby County. Go to https://www.vaccines.gov/ and enter your zip code to find vaccination sites near you.