BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

COVID-19: The Booster Shot



 The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended a booster shot for Covid-19, following the first and second doses. In the past, vaccine programs required years of post-marketing surveillance to determine the best time interval between vaccine doses and the number of doses necessary to sustain long-term protection. However, in the case of Covid-19 pandemic, there is no luxury of time or years for such long-term protocols to observed or followed. The virus, which causes serious health complications requires  immediate and proactive approaches and  decisions to be contained… hence, the recommendation for booster shots..

So,  what is a booster shot? By definition, a booster shot is simply an extra or additional dose of a vaccine given to people following an observed  decrease in the effectiveness and efficacy of an original dose(s). A decline in the strength of protection conferred by a vaccine is often expected, especially when the causative agent mutates and has various strains or variants as in the case of Covid-19. The aim of a booster shot is to restore protection that may have waned or decreased  over a period of time to a level that is deemed insufficient to protect individuals who initially responded satisfactorily to the original vaccine doses. A booster shot is distinct from a third dose in that it is not  considered a part of the  standard primary vaccine doses. It is usually recommended on the side, when there is need to enhance immune response and establish adequate levels  of protection for individuals who have developed no or sub-optimal immune response to an original dose(s). 

A  booster, in general,  is designed to help the population retain the highest  level of immunity and for the longest possible time. Typically, individuals are encouraged to get a booster after the immunity from the initial dose(s) have naturally begun to to diminish. 

The CDC recommends a COVID-19 boosters for individuals who are 18 years or older, and have received the first and second doses. Boosters are readily available in many vaccine outlets across the world including retail pharmacies, mobile vaccination clinics and state or local vaccination sites. As with most vaccines, temporary side effects  and symptoms similar to those of a flu shot are expected for a few days. These may  include sore or swollen arm, fever, body aches, headaches, cold, general malaise and swollen lymph nodes. All Covid-19 booster shots are mRNA vaccines and can be interchangeable- either the same brand as the original doses or a different brand- the Moderna or Pfizer (mRNA) vaccine are readily available in the United States and Canada.

An additional dose- also known as a third dose, is given to people whose immune systems are moderately or severely compromised in order to improve their response to the initial doses. This is different from a booster dose in that the booster is given when a person has completed their vaccine doses, and protection against the virus has reduced over time. A third dose is especially recommended for Individuals who have cancer, underwent organ or stem cell transplant in the last two years, are taking immunosuppressive drugs, are diagnosed with HIV and have a high viral load or low CD4 count.

From all indications, COVID-19 does not seem to be backing down anytime soon; in fact, a new variant-omicron, has just been identified. Despite all precautions by individuals, organizations and governments, the pandemic has persisted. However, we must not lose hope- we must continue to follow appropriate guidelines and  recommendations  by governments and health authorities. As always, BlessWorld Foundation continues to provide information to keep the community updated about COVID-19 through her online blogs.

Stay safe and informed!

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