If you’re not one of the 7.6 million Americans who have already received the updated omicron-specific Covid booster, you may still be debating one important question: When should I get it?
Experts say most people should get the new booster as soon as possible, especially before the late fall and winter months, when cases are expected to increase. Cases started rising in November last year, as cold, dry weather made it easier for the virus to spread. They rose until the end of the year, reaching a peak around mid-January.
The vaccine’s protection slowly increases two or three weeks after the injection: If you get your injection on October 1, you can probably expect the defenses to be fully activated by mid or end of the month. That protection usually lasts about three or four months before it starts to wear off.
That’s useful knowledge – but still, there’s no perfect date for booking your booster appointment. It depends on when you last received a Covid vaccine, how recently you were infected with Covid and whether you are at high risk of serious illness from the virus.
Here’s what you need to know:
If you have not received a Covid infection or vaccine in the past few months
If you’re a healthy, everyday American who hasn’t had Covid recently or received an older version of the vaccine, Dr. Ashish Jha, White House Covid Response Coordinator, that you should set a Halloween deadline for your new booster.
“Why Halloween? Because three weeks after Halloween is Thanksgiving, and there’s a lot of travel, and you see family and you see friends — and a few weeks later it’s the holidays,” Jha told the “In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt” podcast. earlier this month.
Pfizer’s reformulated recording is authorized for people 12 years and older. The new photo of Moderna is for people 18 and older.
If you feel side effects from the new booster, they will likely be familiar ones – similar to your previous experiences with the Covid vaccine. Consider taking the day after your booster appointment to stay home and rest, just in case the side effects hit you hard.
You can try scheduling your appointment for a Friday or Saturday, and keeping at least one weekend date free for recovery if you’re concerned about missing work.
It’s safe to get your flu shot at the same time as your Covid booster. But if you can afford to wait, experts recommend getting your booster first — and waiting until you get your flu shot in late October or early November.
If you have had Covid in the past three months
CDC advisors say you should consider waiting three months after testing negative before getting your new booster.
Studies have shown that waiting a few months after an infection to get vaccinated can result in a stronger immune response from an injection, the CDC website says. People who have been recently infected also have a lower risk of infection, the agency adds.
If you have received a Covid vaccine in the past two months
To qualify for the new injections, the CDC says you must have completed your primary vaccination course and be at least two months away from your last Covid vaccine dose. So are older versions of the Covid booster shot: if you just got a booster in September, you’ll have to wait until November for your new booster.
The two-month period will ensure that you take full advantage of the protection you already have from your previous dose, and increase your chances of protecting yourself from serious illness and hospitalization deeper into the winter.
If you are elderly, immunocompromised or otherwise at high risk for severe Covid
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