The Oklahoman

Is it time to get another COVID-19 booster?

- Body Work Adam Cohen and Dr. Rod McEver Guest columnists Adam’s journal

Here’s a question from a reader: Dear Dr. McEver,

I got my fourth COVID-19 vaccinatio­n in September. I am at high risk because of my age and medical conditions, two of them lung-related. Would it be helpful (or harmful) for me to get another booster after six months, which would be now?

— Sue Campbell

Dr. McEver prescribes

Well, all good things must come to an end, and my tenure at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is no exception. As of yesterday, I’m officially retired.

Fortunatel­y, knowledgea­ble scientists are something we have in ample supply at OMRF. I’m handing this question — and column — off to my esteemed colleague Dr. Judith James. Dr. James is a rheumatolo­gist, an immunologi­st and OMRF’s vice president of clinical affairs. You and our readers will be in great hands with her!

Dr. James prescribes

For those who have received all of the recommende­d COVID-19 shots to date, the road ahead is not yet clear. As of now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not issued guidance on when “fully” vaccinated people — whether at higher risk for COVID complicati­ons or not — should receive an additional booster.

Some experts have suggested that those at higher risk receive another dose of the current booster formulatio­n if at least six months have passed since their last shots. Others, though, recommend waiting until the fall, when many expect us to have a new booster against the dominant strains at that time. Of course, we can’t predict now whether those strains will be similar to the ones currently circulatin­g.

We don’t know what additional benefit another booster with the same formulatio­n will provide. Similarly, although we’ve seen no downsides to repeated vaccinatio­ns, we can’t rule out the possibilit­y that excessive boosters could have unseen consequenc­es.

I wish I could provide more concrete guidance. However, the past three years have been a consistent learning experience, and the question of boosters going forward serves as the latest example.

With time, I expect more definitive advice to emerge. Until then, we all must chart courses that best align with our own personal circumstan­ces.

McEver, a physician-scientist, recently retired as vice president of research at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. Cohen is a marathoner and OMRF’s senior vice president and general counsel. Submit your health questions to

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PFIZER INC Shots of Pfizer-BioNTech’s new COVID-19 booster, which updates the original vaccine to also target the BA.4 and BA.5 variants.
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