What Is a COVID Booster Shot and Why Is It Important?

senior woman holding red heart shape with syringe icon after vaccination

Research on the COVID-19 pandemic is continually being updated, making it crucial to stay current and safe. Since August 23, 2021, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been fully FDA approved, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines remain approved under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). All three vaccines can be safely used to protect yourself and others. Now, there are also COVID booster shots: additional doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines. Here’s what to know about the booster shots. 

What Is a COVID Booster?

Johns Hopkins Medicine provides a good overview in their guide to COVID vaccines: “A COVID booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine given after the protection provided by the original shot(s) has begun to decrease over time.” It’s similar to needing an extra tetanus shot a few years after you got one as a child. 

Yale Medicine infectious diseases expert Albert Shaw, MD, PhD explains it another way: “The simplest answer is that it’s just another dose of a vaccine you received . . . particularly if there is evidence that protection is waning after a period of time.” 

Who Needs a Booster and Why?

Due to emerging variants including Delta and Omicron, the CDC recommends that everyone ages 12 years and up (who has already been vaccinated) gets a booster dose when they are able to, especially if they are 65 years or older. 

Receiving the initial doses of a COVID vaccine still offers protection. But that degree of safety may lessen over time. A booster shot helps to further increase your ability to fight infection, should you be exposed.

Two Vaccine Doses +  Booster?

Consider the booster shot a top-up on your protection. The initial vaccine establishes a frontline of protection, and the booster then later amplifies that protection. That’s why your medical provider would never give you two vaccine doses and a booster at the same time. Pacing the shots according to public health guidance ultimately leads to better immunity. 

According to guidelines from the CDC, if you’ve received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, it’s advised to get a booster shot at least five months afterward. While these mRNA vaccines are the preferred standard, if you’ve gotten Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, it’s advised to get a booster at least two months later.

No matter what vaccine you had originally, a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster shot is advised.

What Does Being Boosted Mean for You?

The ultimate purpose of a COVID booster is to ensure that you have maximum protection against COVID infection. Receiving a booster means that you can rest assured that you have done everything medically possible to improve your immune defenses. In the case that you do test positive, a booster provides the best chance that you will avoid the severe effects of illness. 

So for your peace of mind, and for the sake of your community, family, and friends, consider receiving a booster shot.

As a reminder: regardless of your vaccine status, you should still mask up when indoors and around crowds. Also, stay aware of COVID surges in your area.
At YourTown Health, we offer appropriate medical care to all our neighbors in need. This means offering COVID vaccination and ensuring we are all protected. Call (770) 626-4038 or visit our website to learn more.