Is it time to get another COVID-19 booster?
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 officially 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 affairs. 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 benefit 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 definitive 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.