Senior Health

10/4/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Most people who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus are well-protected against COVID-19. But the protection provided by these effective vaccines can decrease over time. Research on the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna suggests that they may eventually lose some of their effectiveness, regardless of the variant of the virus. A COVID booster shot offers an additional dose of the vaccine and is given after the protection from the original shots have begun to diminish.

The booster helps people maintain their level of immunity longer by “supercharging” the initial vaccine’s effectiveness.

However, different vaccines may require different booster timing. For example, CDC research indicates that the Pfizer vaccine retains 91% of its effectiveness at four months but soon drops to 77% after that. On the other hand, the Moderna vaccine remains 92% effective nearly five months after vaccination.

Here is what you need to know about the COVID boosters.

Who is eligible for a COVID booster shot?

According to the CDC, only specific individuals originally vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are eligible for a COVID booster shot right now. These people include:

  • Anyone aged 65 and older and adults 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should get the Pfizer booster shot. The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age and might also increase for adults of any age, depending on their underlying medical condition(s).
  • Residents of long-term care settings, 18 years and older, should get a booster shot since residents live in group settings and are often older adults with medical issues.
  • People aged 18 to 49 years with underlying medical conditions may get a booster shot based on their benefits and risks.
  • People in the 18 to 64 age group at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional settings may also get a booster shot. Occupational and institutional settings include health care, schools, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, etc.

People in the recommended groups who initially received the Moderna or J&J/Janssen vaccine will also likely need a COVID booster shot. Once the CDC has more data on the effectiveness and safety of Moderna and J&J/Janssen booster shots, which is expected soon, they will formulate a plan for these booster shots.

Why should someone get the shot?

Studies show that the vaccine’s protection against COVID-19 could decrease over time and be less effective against the Delta variant. While the vaccination for adults 65 years and older remains effective in preventing severe disease, recent data suggests it may be less effective at preventing infection or milder illness.

The evidence also indicates that the vaccine’s effectiveness against COVID-19 infections decreases over time among healthcare and other frontline workers. The reduced efficacy probably comes from a combination of reduced protection over time and the greater infectiousness of the Delta variant.

Data from a clinical trial has shown that a Pfizer booster shot can increase the immune response for those who received their shots six months earlier. And with an increased immune response, people should get increased protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant.

Are there side effects from the booster?

Up to this point, the side effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID booster shot are similar to those of the two-shot primary series. Some people have no side effects, and those that have them reported they were mild to moderate and included:

  • Swelling, redness, and pain at the injection site
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Pain
  • Chills
  • Nausea

Serious side effects, such as anaphylaxis and thrombosis, were reported but are extremely rare.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff