Recently, news of the possible need of an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose has been making headlines. The “booster” shot provides additional protection against severe illness and death from a COVID-19 infection.
This news comes as the rise of the Delta variant is sweeping the nation and largely impacting the unvaccinated and immunocompromised community.
Studies show that protection against COVID-19 from the first round of vaccine shots may begin to deteriorate after 6-8 months. Research also shows that immunocompromised individuals may have even lower protection following the first round of shots. By taking a third shot of one of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna), protection and immunity against the coronavirus is likely to improve. This not only decreases your chances of getting the virus, but greatly decreases your chances of serious illness or death if you do still get COVID-19.
At this time, the recommendation is that anyone who is immunocompromised should get a booster shot. This includes patients who are in active cancer treatment or have recently completed cancer treatment (chemotherapy and/or radiation). Anyone who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer falls into this category. It is highly likely that the recommendation will be extended to include everyone at some point soon.
Reported side effects of an additional COVID-19 shot are similar to the side effects reported for the first two doses.
If you or someone you know is unsure about getting the booster shot, or wondering if they should, it is important to discuss this openly with your healthcare team. The data available from studies so far show the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, but their effectiveness may wane over time and/or they may become less effective with new variants. For those individuals who received the Johnson and Jonhson shot, data is still being collected to see whether an additional shot will be recommended.