Tue. Dec 7th, 2021
Answers to Your Questions About Covid Booster Shots

The White House could begin promoting and rolling out a plan for booster shots as soon as Friday. Health departments, pharmacies and doctors’ offices will dispense boosters much the same way that they administered the first and second doses. Call ahead to find out about scheduling, and bring your vaccine card. Proof of an underlying medical condition won’t be required, but you may want to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.

You will be able to find more information about getting a booster shot in the coming days on your state’s health department website or pharmacy websites. People who are immune compromised also can talk to their physicians about the best way to get a third shot. Since the F.D.A. fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as a two-dose regimen last month, physicians have had broad latitude to prescribe a third dose to people they deemed in need of one.

While people who are severely immune compromised can get a third shot sooner, everyone else who qualifies should wait until at least six months after their second shots. In addition to a lack of safety data, getting a booster too soon is probably a waste of a dose and may not increase your antibodies in a meaningful way.

While the Biden administration has said it supported booster shots for everyone who is eight months post-vaccination, the plan has been rejected by F.D.A. scientists. But the recommendation could change in the coming weeks or months as more data becomes available on the durability of vaccine antibodies over time. The good news is that the consensus in the scientific community is that all the vaccines continue to provide strong protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death from Covid-19.

While data are limited, so far reactions reported after the third mRNA dose from Pfizer or Moderna were similar to those of the two-dose series: fatigue and pain at the injection site were the most commonly reported side effects, and, overall, most symptoms were mild to moderate, the C.D.C. says. A survey from Israel, where booster shots already are being given, found that 88 percent of Pfizer vaccine recipients said that in the days after the third dose, they felt “similar or better” to how they felt after the second shot. About a third of respondents reported some side effects, with the most common being soreness at the injection site, and 1 percent said they sought medical treatment because of one or more side effects.

It’s not recommended. For now, Pfizer vaccine recipients are advised to get a Pfizer booster shot, and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients should wait until booster doses are approved for their manufacturer’s vaccine.

Some people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are seeking a Pfizer booster shot on their own. San Francisco health officials have said that they will accommodate these requests as long as people consult with their doctors first.

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