DO I NEED YET ANOTHER COVID BOOSTER?
I received my annual flu shot a couple of days ago. Heck, it’s October—time for the vaccine. (Every year, the CDC works with manufacturers of influenza vaccines to help predict the ingredients most likely to target evolving mutations in the virus.) My only negative was a sore arm for 24 hours. The big positive is that I haven’t come down with the flu since I was 11 years old. I don’t know if that’s the vaccine or just good luck.
Now my question is: Should I get the newest COVID vaccine? I had my last COVID booster only 3 months ago—which was termed covalent because it targeted several strains. But this latest vaccine is monovalent because it no longer targets the ancestral strain spike protein. This one focuses on what’s circulating now. (Sounds somewhat like the flu vaccine, doesn’t it?)
Giving us a bit more to go on, Yahoo Lifeline presented an online article on October 5, 2023 by Korin Miller, Here’s What You Need to Know About Getting the New 2023 COVID Booster. Here are excerpts.
What is the latest COVID-19 booster?
There are actually two different mRNA vaccines that can be used as a COVID booster right now: one from Moderna and another from Pfizer, according to the FDA. (An updated vaccine from Novavax just got FDA approval and should be hitting the market soon.)
What are the potential side effects of the new COVID-19 booster?
The potential side effects are “just like any other COVID vaccination.” According to the CDC, those potential side effects can include:
Pain, swelling, and redness on the arm where the shot was given; fatigue; headache; muscle pain; chills; nausea; fever.
Even though there’s a range of side effects you can experience, “the biggest potential side effect is a sore arm—and everybody doesn’t even get that,” says William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Recent research has shown that nearly 32% of people who didn’t get the last booster skipped it because they were worried about vaccine side effects, but doctors say people should feel comfortable getting the vaccine.
“Nearly 700 million doses of these mRNA vaccines have gone into arms and they’ve been under the microscope,” says Thomas Russo, M.D., a professor and chief of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo in New York. “It’s extraordinarily safe. The risk-benefit ratio by far favors vaccination.”
By the way, if you’ve been nervous about the mRNA vaccine or had a bad reaction after receiving a dose, the new Novavax vaccine is worth looking into, Dr. Schaffner says. “It’s made in a more traditional way,” he says. “It’s an alternative to consider.”
When is the best time to get the new COVID-19 booster?
While timing is often a factor with the flu vaccine to try to ensure you have antibodies that last through the flu season, Dr. Russo says that’s not really a concern with the COVID-19 booster.
“There’s a moderate amount of COVID out there right now,” he says. “I like to spread the flu and COVID vaccine out by a couple of weeks, so I would say get the COVID vaccine now and the flu vaccine before Halloween or vice versa.” However, he points out, you can get both vaccines at the same time—you just have a slightly greater risk of side effects if you go this route.
Ultimately, what matters is that you get the vaccine, Dr. Russo says. “Everyone is at risk for getting serious disease from COVID—there is no zero-risk group,” he says. “The vaccine can help.”
I’m convinced. I’m making an appointment to get one more shot in the arm—the latest COVID booster.