CHARLOTTE – The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have cleared the way for millions of more Americans to receive a second COVID-19 booster.
People who qualify can receive a second Pfizer or Moderna mRNA booster at least four months after their first. This includes:
- Adults aged 50 and older.
- Any adult who received a primary vaccine and booster dose from Johnson & Johnson.
- People with underlying medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, chronic liver or kidney diseases, and chronic lung diseases such as moderate to severe asthma and COPD.
Schedule yours today
Eligible? Schedule yours here or call your primary care physician’s office to see if they offer COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. Alternatively, schedule a booster dose at Novant Health GoHealth Urgent Care. Scroll down to find a convenient location, select their website and make an appointment that works for you. Under ‘Reason for visit’ select either Pfizer vaccine or Moderna vaccine (see related image).
Why boosters are important
A second booster (or fourth dose) is most important for people over 65 and those with significant chronic medical conditions, said Dr. David Priest, Novant Health chief safety, quality, and epidemiology officer, “If you fall into these categories, please consider getting boosted to protect yourself against severe illness,” he said. For anyone thinking, ‘Another booster?’ Priest offered the following: “Believe me, I understand how changing guidelines and the need for additional boosters can be confusing, even alarming for some, but data continues to show the importance of vaccinations and boosters.”During the recent omicron surge, boosted persons were 21-times less likely to die from COVID compared to those who were unvaccinated, according to the CDC, and 7-times less likely to be hospitalized.
Promising new research
There is also new evidence on the effectiveness of a second COVID booster. “Emerging data out of Israel suggests a fourth dose has a significant mortality benefit in older adults,” Priest said.
The study, pending peer review, determined Israelis who received a second Pfizer booster reduced their chances of death by more than half. COVID-19 mortality among participants who received two boosters was compared with participants who only received one.
More than half a million people participated in the 40-day study, according to researchers.
Is it safe?
“We are confident that there are no major risks in receiving another shot as these vaccines have proven to be very safe,” said Becky DeCamillis, a physician assistant with Novant Health Infectious Disease Specialists in Winston-Salem.
“The more times our bodies see the virus, ideally in the form of vaccination rather than infection since vaccines are much safer, the more protected we will be in the future from severe disease,” she added.
Anyone with questions is encouraged to speak with their health care provider.
How long might a second booster protect me?
Typically, antibodies are detectable for at least three months after a vaccine dose or natural infection.
“Sometimes longer,” DeCamillis said, “but it depends on their age, medical conditions, etc.”
Another thing to consider is that anytime you’re exposed to COVID, even unknowingly, the cellular part of the immune system is working in the background to build more protection.
In the meantime, anyone who has yet to be vaccinated, or receive a booster, is encouraged to get one. “Data shows that an initial vaccine series is critical in helping to protect people from the potentially severe outcomes of COVID-19,” DeCamillis said.