What to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine Booster

With transmission rates for COVID-19 still high in most of the country, the vaccine booster is an important way to keep people safe and prevent the risk of spreading infection. Brian Kaminski, DO, CPPS, a board-certified emergency medicine physician and vice president of quality and patient safety at ProMedica, shares details about the vaccine booster shot and what to expect.

How does the COVID-19 booster shot work?

The COVID-19 booster is an additional dose of the same COVID-19 vaccine,” explained Dr. Kaminski. “After vaccination, the immune response in most people fades over time. The additional dose helps induce an immune response that’s greater than the initial dose or two doses.”

Strengthening our body’s immune response with a booster helps us be more proactive with our health, especially as we head into the winter and flu seasons.

What types of booster shots are offered?

Currently, vaccines from three manufacturers are being offered to the American public: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen.

If you initially received a Pfizer or Moderna (mRNA) vaccine, you should wait at least six months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination series before receiving a booster. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently says those ages 18+ may get a booster, and that all people ages 50+ and those 18+ living in a long-term care setting should get a booster.

If you initially received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (viral vector) vaccine, you should wait at least two months after receiving the initial dose before getting your booster. You are eligible if you are 18+ years old.

One benefit of the vaccination booster is being able to switch the type of vaccination you receive after your primary vaccination series. You can receive Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson’s/Janssen no matter which vaccine series you initially received.

What should you expect after your booster shot?

The booster may cause common side effects similar to or milder than what you experienced shortly after your initial vaccination.and they usually only last 24 to 48 hours. Dr. Kaminski stated, “It isn’t uncommon for people to have short-term side effects from any dose of the vaccine. We do see people have ordinary side effects such as low duration fever, muscle aches, body aches, and fatigue, all of which tend to go away in a day or two.”

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and vaccination is one of the best ways to keep you and others from contracting the virus and experiencing severe illness. The booster helps to provide an extra level of protection that enables us to more safely return to the activities we have missed during the pandemic.

If you have questions about the vaccine or booster, talk with your primary care provider. You can learn more about vaccinations on ProMedica’s website.