Do You Really Need A Booster After A Covid Breakthrough Infection
First, let’s look at the rationale for boosting. “I always like to remind people what the word ‘booster’ means,” says Michael Bauer, MD, medical director at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital in Lake Forest, Illinois. “It reminds your immune system to rev up again ,” he tells Health.
“If you’ve been vaccinated and then get a COVID infection, that infection is actually serving a similar role to a booster,” explains Dr. Bauer. “In effect, you are getting a booster at that point by natural immunity.”
The question is, how long does that immunity last?
Data from earlier in the pandemic suggest that people are unlikely to get reinfected right away. One study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at folks who had COVID-19 on or after January 2020. Researchers followed those people over time. The likelihood of getting another COVID infection within 90 days was exceedingly low.
That’s because we develop antibodies to help fight off the virus, according to Dr. Bauer.
But now that Omicron is the dominant variant in the US, it’s unclear how protective a prior infection may be against future bouts of COVID. Frankly, experts say, there’s a dearth of data.
“We just don’t know how well that recent infection is going to protect that individual against subsequent infection, whereas a booster is standardized,” Dr. Li told Health during a media briefing on COVID. Vaccinations are also a “more reliable means of offering longer-term protection,” he noted.
Vaccine Protection Against Variants Of The Virus
It is normal for a virus to change. Different variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 have been found all over the world. Since there are only minimal differences between the variants and the original virus, the vaccine will not immediately become ineffective. Even if a vaccine is slightly less effective against a variant, it can still offer protection against severe illness and death.
When variants of the virus occur, they will be subjected to research at the national and international levels to determine how they respond to the vaccines. RIVM is also conducting research on variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Read more about that research: Variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
What Is The Covid
The COVID-19 booster shot is an additional dose of the primary vaccine series that is administered to a fully vaccinated person.
The booster is intended to help people maintain their immunity for longer, prevent serious complications, and reduce the risk of hospitalization. The CDC recommends getting a booster dose with an mRNA vaccine for the best immune response, irrespective of the primary vaccine series.
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Do You Still Need To Take Precautions After Being Vaccinated
If youve received both doses of the vaccine, its important to still continue to take precautions, including:
- Wearing a mask.Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when youre around people outside of your household.
- Hand-washing.Hand-washing is particularly important after being out in public, after coughing and sneezing, and after using the bathroom.
- Practicing physical distancing. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from people outside of your household.
- Avoiding crowded areas. Places that are crowded or poorly ventilated can make it easier to contract and transmit the virus.
These precautions are important because we currently dont know whether people whove been vaccinated can still spread the virus to others, even if they themselves dont develop symptoms.
Covid Vaccine Plus Infection Can Lead To Months Of Immunity
A health-care worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Credit: Andres Borges/Bloomberg/Getty
Even people who have had COVID-19 receive long-lasting benefits from a full course of vaccination, according to three recent studies. What’s more, one of the studies found that the hybrid immunity caused by vaccination and infection is long-lasting, conferring highly effective protection against symptomatic disease for at least six to eight months after vaccination.
The data were collected before the Omicron variant emerged, casting some doubt on the studies relevance today. But if the findings hold up, they could inform vaccination schemes and vaccine passports, which some countries require for entry to places such as restaurants. The work also counters high-profile claims that people who have had COVID-19 dont benefit from vaccination.
Just such a claim helped to launch some of the research. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that he already had COVID-19, and for this reason, it is not necessary to take a vaccination, says Julio Croda, an infectious-disease doctor and epidemiologist at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Croda and his colleagues drew on Brazilian vaccination and infection databases to test such assertions.
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Wasn’t There A Problem With The Rotavirus Vaccine
Rotavirus is one of the most common causes of diarrhea in young children. In 1999, a rotavirus vaccine was taken off the market because it was linked to an increased risk for intussusception, a type of bowel problem, in babies.
Now, two different rotavirus vaccines are available and are very safe. Some studies suggest that they have a very small increased risk for intussusception, but that problem is rare. These vaccines have been shown to prevent most cases of rotavirus infection and almost all severe cases.
The vaccine is now on the regular immunization schedule to be given orally to infants as a liquid during standard vaccination visits RotaTeq at ages 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months, or Rotarix at ages 2 months and 4 months. Your doctor will have the most current information.
Which Vaccines Do We Need
Vaccines not only protect us, but vulnerable people in our community .
The vaccines we may need are determined by our health, age, lifestyle and occupation. Together, these factors are known as HALO.HALO is defined as:
- Health some people may benefit from additional or more frequent immunisations due to health factors. For example, pregnant women, premature babies, or those with conditions .
- Age at certain ages, we are more vulnerable to some illnesses. Such as in: childhood, in secondary school and when we are older.
- Lifestyle some lifestyle choices can put us or the community at risk, such as overseas travel, moving to Australia, becoming a new parent, sexual activity, smoking, or playing contact sport.
- Occupation some jobs have a higher risk of exposure to infections. Such as those who work in hospitals, childcare and emergency services.
Check your immunisation HALO using the Immunisation for Life infographic.
A Mild Reaction To The Vaccine Is Just Your Immune System Working
Dr. Marks says a lot of people wonder what it means if they experience side effects, such as a fever or arm rash, and if that should prevent them from getting their second dose. These mild side effects are actually just your immune system responding. They are often more pronounced after the second dose. It means you have a vigorous immune system when you get those reactions, says Dr. Marks. If people didnt feel well at the first dose, they should be prepared for that possibility again and make sure they take some extra time if they need it. If you had an allergic reaction or a very severe reaction from the first dose, you should talk to your doctor, but otherwise people should get the second dose.
At the same time, people should not worry if they feel no effects after getting the vaccine. We know from the studies, some people also have no reaction to the vaccine, says Dr. Marks. So if you do not experience these mild reactions this is not a cause for concern either.
How Long Does It Take To Have Immunity After The Second Vaccine Dose
Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines work by introducing your immune system to a part of the new coronavirus called the spike protein. This protein is found on the viral surface. Its used to help the virus bind to and enter host cells in your body.
Because your immune system has a memory, it can use the vaccine to analyze and store information about the spike protein. It can then draw upon this information to protect you if youre exposed to the actual virus in the future.
However, immunity doesnt happen immediately after vaccination. In fact, it typically takes about 2 weeks for your body to build up immunity. Because of this, you can still become ill during this time frame.
Now that weve discussed how long it generally takes to have immunity, lets take a look at the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in the weeks after the second dose.
The Pfizer-BioNTech clinical trial evaluated vaccine effectiveness 1 week after participants had gotten their second dose. Researchers found that the vaccine was 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 at this point.
The Moderna clinical trial looked at vaccine effectiveness 2 weeks after participants had received their second dose. At this point, the vaccine was found to be 94.1 percent effective at preventing COVID-19.
The time period between the two doses depends on which of the two vaccines you get:
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What If You Are Required To Get A Booster Even Though You Had A Recent Covid Infection
Per CDC guidance, people who had COVID before getting their booster dose should go ahead and get that extra jab after their isolation period is over.
“The CDC says there’s no definite interval that you need wait after you have recovered from your acute illness to get your booster dose,” William Schaffner, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, tells Health.
His preference? “I would give them the vaccine, sure, because we think that there’s no discernible safety issue, and they may well benefit from getting that booster.”
Age isn’t a factor either, says Michael Chang, MD, a pediatric infectious disease physician with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. “As long as you’re eligible for the vaccine and booster, the guidance is the same.”
Dr. Chang suggests scheduling your booster while you’re in isolation. “Ultimately, you should have a minimum disruption of six daysa minimum of five days in isolation and then a booster the next day.”
What If You Had Covid And Later Got Vaccinated
This is called hybrid immunity, and itâs the best of both worlds.
âYou have the benefit of very deep, but narrow, immunity produced by vaccine, and very broad, but not very deep, immunity produced by infection,â Poland says. He says youâve effectively cross-trained your immune system.
In studies of people who recovered from COVID-19 and then went on to get an mRNA vaccine, after one dose, their antibodies were as high as someone who had been fully vaccinated. After two doses, their antibody levels were about double the average levels seen in someone whoâd only been vaccinated.
Studies have shown this kind of immunity has real benefits, too. A recent study by researchers at the University of Kentucky and the CDC found that people whoâd gotten COVID-19 in 2020, but not been vaccinated, were about twice as likely to be reinfected in May and June compared with those who recovered and went on to get their vaccines.
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Do I Need A Booster Shot
Though some vaccines provide life-long or long-term immunity against a disease , others are not as long-lasting. The duration of immunity provided by a vaccine depends on how easily a virus can change its genetic code .
As the COVID-19 virus replicates and spreads, it duplicates its RNA. During this process, changes can occur. This can result in variants, which are different versions of the same virus.
There are many variants of the COVID-19 virus, but two had emerged as variants of concern by late 2021: Delta and Omicron. Because variants have a different genetic code and can act differently than original viruses, sometimes immunity can wane. Your immune system may need a boost to make sure you’re fully protected.
Experts recommend a COVID-19 booster for people ages 16 and older who have have been fully vaccinated. For those who received the two-dose vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, boosters are recommended at least six months after receiving the second shot. People who received the single-shot vaccine should consider a booster at least two months later.
How Does The Coronavirus Vaccine Work
There are three main COVID-19 vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Pfizer received full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Aug. 23, 2021 to be used for people ages 16 and older and has emergency-use authorization for children ages 6 months through 15 years. It is given in two doses for ages 5 and older, and three doses for children ages 6 months through 4 years.
Moderna received full FDA approval for ages 18 and older on Jan. 31 and emergency-use authorization for children ages 6 months through 5 years. This is a two-dose messenger RNA vaccine.
Both of these vaccines include a fragment of the mRNA that encodes for a certain portion of the coronavirus’ spike protein. When the vaccine is given to us, our cells make that protein a fragment of it and then our bodies build an immune response to the protein.
The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has emergency-use authorization for people ages 18 and older, is a DNA vaccine. However, it delivers the same product in the end as the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines. This new DNA vaccine allows the body to have an immune response against the spike protein, and ultimately, an immune response to infection.
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How Long Does It Take To Achieve Immunity
When can you consider yourself fully vaccinated? It depends on which vaccine you get.
In general, you’re fully vaccinated 14 daysor two weeksafter receiving your full series of shots. If you get a single-shot vaccine you’re fully vaccinated two weeks later. If you get a two-shot series , you’re fully vaccinated two weeks after your second shot.
Why do some COVID-19 vaccines take two shots to be fully effective?
The first time primes your body ,” Lang said. “The second time tells the body that were serious about this and you really need to make immunity to it.”
Answers To More Questions About:
CDC does not keep vaccination records or determine how vaccination records are used. To update your records with vaccines you received while outside of the United States, you may:
- Contact the immunization information system in your state. You can find state IIS information on the CDC website.
- Contact your healthcare provider or your local or state immunization program through your states health department.
The CDC-labeled white COVID-19 Vaccination Record Cards are only issued to people vaccinated in the United States. CDC recommends you keep your documentation of being vaccinated in the other country as proof of vaccination. CDC also recommends checking with your primary care provider or state health department for options to document your vaccination status domestically.
If you have received all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that has been authorized or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or is listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization , then you are considered to be fully vaccinated. This currently includes the following vaccines:
Visit the clinical considerations webpage for more information.
While COVID-19 vaccines were developed rapidly, all steps were taken to make sure they are safe and effective:
Learn more about developing COVID-19 vaccines.
Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 because:
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How Do Vaccines Help Our Immunity
Our immune system is like a library it stores information about every germ ever defeated. We sometimes call this immunological memory.Some antibodies remain on patrol in our bloodstream. So if we ever encounter the real germ in the future, our immune system can quickly trigger the memory cells and produce antibodies to defeat it. And this often occurs before we experience any symptoms of illness. Each vaccine is designed according to how the specific germs make us sick. For example, measles is the result of the bodys reaction to the whole virus and so the vaccine contains a weakened form of the virus. On the other hand, tetanus is caused by the bodys reaction to the toxin produced by the tetanus bacteria and so the vaccine contains inactivated tetanus toxin.
To 48 Hours After Vaccination
Once these body-wide side effects set in, they can last for 12 hours or more. Experts say these side effects should all stop within 24 to 48 hours after your shot, though you may still have some slight fatigue or arm soreness after that.
Mullane says its best to avoid important events or take on key tasks the day after your vaccination if youre concerned about the side effects. That’s because your vaccine appointment and the window for peak symptoms aren’t likely to happen at the same time. Most side effects come later.
Its OK to take an anti-inflammatory medication like Tylenol or ibuprofen to relieve any symptoms. But Mullane says not to take it before the shot, as it can interfere with your immune response.
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