Céline Gounder, MD and Edith Bracho-Sanchez, MD, answer commonly-asked questions about COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
Edith Bracho-Sanchez, MD, Pediatrician: It is absolutely normal for immunity to wane, to go down with time, and we know that an effective way to bring it right back up is to give a booster.
Celine Gounder, MD, Infectious Disease Specialist & Epidemiologist: The fact that you need a booster dose of vaccine does not mean vaccines don’t work. It’s really a race between your immune and how quickly the virus is mutating and spreading.
Edith Bracho-Sanchez, MD: Really anyone at some point will need a booster against COVID-19.
COVID VACCINE BOOSTERS ARE AVAILABLE FOR EVERYONE 5 YEARS AND OLDER
Edith Bracho-Sanchez, MD: When it comes to boosters, the information and the guidance is evolving, so it is always important to make sure that you are checking in with your doctor to see whether you or your child qualifies for a booster.
Celine Gounder, MD: Particularly among people over the age of 50 who have chronic medical conditions, we have seen an increased risk of hospitalization and death the farther out you are from your last dose of vaccine.
A SECOND COVID VACCINE BOOSTER IS ADVISED FOR PEOPLE 50 YEARS AND OLDER
Edith Bracho-Sanchez, MD: It is okay to mix and match vaccines if you have something available to you that is different from what you first got. So, if you got Pfizer and by the time you’re due to go get your booster what’s available is Moderna, that is totally fine to go ahead and get the Moderna vaccine and vice versa.
Celine Gounder, MD: We don’t yet know how often we will need to get boosted. Some of this will really depend on the virus itself. How quickly new variants emerge will really determine the frequency or need for boosting.
COVID VACCINE BOOSTERS ARE FREE TO EVERYONE!
Edith Bracho-Sanchez, MD: You can get a booster really anywhere now. You can get a booster at a pharmacy, at a doctor’s office, at a vaccination clinic. You can go back to the same place you received the first dose or two of your vaccine. And it is absolutely free to get a booster, just like it was to get the first couple shots of the COVID-19 vaccine.