Who should get the updated coronavirus vaccine booster now—and who should wait?

Is the Covid-19 vaccine going to grow to be an annual shot, just like the flu vaccine? Talking Tuesday, head of the Biden administration’s Covid-19 Response Group, Dr. Ashish Jha, prompt so, telling reporters that the vaccines and boosters are prone to grow to be “a more routine part of our lives.”

Lots of people have particular questions on whether or not they need to get it now or wait. Who ought to rush out and get the booster, and who can in all probability wait slightly longer? Is there a profit to delaying the vaccine in order that it may be timed with winter holidays? And will mother and father of children underneath 12 fear that they are not but eligible?

To information us by these questions, I spoke with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency doctor and professor of well being coverage and administration on the George Washington College Milken Institute Faculty of Public Well being. She can also be writer of “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health.Dr. Leana Wen: One takeaway is that the booster will be an updated formulation that targets both the original strain and the Omicron subvariants. This is not unusual — it’s what’s done every year for the flu vaccine, where manufacturers anticipate what will likely be the strains in circulation and then target the vaccine accordingly.

Another important takeaway for me is that the CDC is moving away from counting the number of vaccine doses, and instead saying that people 12 and older are considered up to date on their coronavirus vaccines if they have received the original primary series — two doses of Pfizer, two doses of Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson — plus this updated booster. That simplifies things a lot.

CNN: Do you think the coronavirus vaccine is going to be an annual shot, similar to the influenza vaccine?

Wen: From the time Covid-19 vaccines were first authorized, I and other public health experts have been saying this would be a possibility. We didn’t know whether the coronavirus vaccines would be a series of two, three or four shots, after which you’re done, or whether it would need to be given on regular intervals. The hepatitis vaccine, for example, is a three-dose vaccine, versus the tetanus vaccine, which requires regular boosters. And, of course, the flu vaccine is updated every year.It’s looking like the coronavirus vaccines are more like the flu vaccine. Immunity wanes after a time, and there are also new strains that may benefit from more targeted vaccines. Federal health authorities have even signaled they may shift to an annual cadence.

Such cadence will be helpful, I think, because Americans are already used to getting a flu shot every year. Especially if the Covid-19 booster can be timed together with the flu shot, that could help improve vaccine uptake for both shots.

CNN: Friends and colleagues all have some version of this question: Should they get the new booster now? In your opinion, who should rush out and get the booster as soon as it’s available?

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Wen: The CDC says that everyone 12 and older is recommended to get the updated booster, as long as it’s been at least two months since their last vaccine. To me, though, that doesn’t mean that the urgency is the same for everyone.I think it’s most urgent for people who have not received any vaccine or not had Covid-19 in 2022 to get the updated booster. This is especially true for older individuals and those who have chronic medical conditions. About 30% of individuals 65 and older haven’t had any booster. These people actually ought to get the up to date booster now. Expert explains how to protect yourself against the recent Covid surges Till this newest CDC announcement, solely people 50 and older and those that are immunocompromised have been in a position to get two boosters. The uptake for that second booster has additionally been low, with only about 40% uptake so far among individuals 50 and older. That means there are quite a few adults who have may have had their last shot in the previous calendar year. I’d advise these individuals not to wait.

If someone has not gotten any vaccine, they need to get vaccinated with the primary series first. That means getting the two doses of the original Pfizer or Moderna vaccines (or two doses of Novavax or one dose of Johnson & Johnson). People need to complete the primary series prior to receiving the updated booster.

CNN: Who would you say could wait a little to get the updated booster?

Wen: People who recently recovered from Covid-19 can wait to get the updated booster. CDC guidelines say that these individuals could wait three months from their infection. I think this is sound advice. Reinfection is unlikely immediately after recovery, and also there could be benefit to allowing the body time to produce antibodies from infection.

The CDC also says that people are eligible to be vaccinated with the new booster if it’s been at least two months since their last vaccine. I don’t think most people need to rush out to get the booster exactly at the two-month mark. Some might decide to wait three or four months so that it’s a little bit later in the fall; that way, they could have better protection around the holidays.

CNN: I’ve been hearing from some people, like you said, who want to time the booster around winter holidays. Does that make sense to you?

Wen: I can understand why they’d want to do this. We know that the Covid-19 shots provide maximal effectiveness against infection in the several weeks after they’re given. There is sustained protection against severe illness, but the effectiveness against infection wanes somewhat over time.

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It is onerous to foretell the perfect timing the pictures, although, as a result of we do not know what’s going to occur this fall and winter. Proper now, the case depend for Covid-19 is excessive in a number of elements of the nation. For some individuals, particularly those that are extra susceptible to extreme sickness, it is smart to get optimum safety now. However case counts may additionally enhance later this fall, and a few others could resolve to attend till a couple of weeks earlier than Thanksgiving to get their booster.

Basically, I would return to the purpose of final vaccine or an infection. In case you have not been vaccinated in 2022 and haven’t had a current an infection, I would advise that you just get the booster sooner somewhat than later. However in the event you not too long ago had a booster and/or Covid-19, you would in all probability wait a month or so, to attempt to have extra effectiveness in opposition to an infection going into holidays.

CNN: Ought to mother and father of children underneath 12 fear that they are not eligible but for the replace booster?

Wen: No, and I do not assume the case for reinforcing youngsters is almost as clear as it’s for adults. The vast majority of youngsters have had Covid-19. Restoration from an infection, plus vaccination, affords them a really excessive stage of safety in opposition to extreme sickness. I believe it is superb for folks of youthful youngsters to attend till an up to date booster turns into obtainable for this age group.

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