Tips Femeninos | Who really needs a second COVID booster? Here’s what to know

“We can nev­er re­al­ly per­fect­ly time when the next wave is, or when some­one might en­counter in­fec­tion,” said John­son, who sees pa­tients at Johns Hop­kins Bayview Med­ical Cen­ter in Bal­ti­more. “To be as ready as pos­si­ble, I think every­one just needs to stay as up to date as pos­si­ble with their vac­cines.”

An­oth­er dose now may make sense for old­er peo­ple and the im­mune-com­pro­mised, but “there’s less ur­gency in an oth­er­wise healthy per­son,” said Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia im­mu­nol­o­gist E. John Wher­ry

 

By LAU­RAN NEER­GAARD-As­so­ci­at­ed Press

 

Many Amer­i­cans now can get a sec­ond COVID-19 boost­er, but it’s hard to tell who re­al­ly needs an­oth­er shot right now and who could wait.

The Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion au­tho­rized ex­tra Pfiz­er or Mod­er­na shots for any­one 50 or old­er and for some younger peo­ple with se­vere­ly weak­ened im­mune sys­tems. It’s an ef­fort to get ahead of a pos­si­ble next coro­n­avirus surge.

With COVID-19 cas­es low in the U.S., it’s easy to ig­nore calls for an­oth­er dose — or for those who aren’t yet vac­ci­nat­ed or boost­ed to get up to date, said Dr. Er­i­ca John­son, an in­fec­tious dis­ease spe­cial­ist at the Amer­i­can Board of In­ter­nal Med­i­cine.

Her ad­vice: If you’re on the fence, use this lull to talk with your doc­tor about how pro­tect­ed you re­al­ly are — and need to be.

WHO IS EL­I­GI­BLE FOR A SEC­OND BOOST­ER?

Any­one 50 and old­er can get the ex­tra dose at least four months af­ter their last vac­ci­na­tion. So can se­vere­ly im­mune-com­pro­mised pa­tients, such as or­gan trans­plant re­cip­i­ents, as young as 12.

Adults can choose ei­ther the Pfiz­er or the Mod­er­na vac­cine for their ex­tra shot, but Pfiz­er is the on­ly op­tion for chil­dren.

WHAT ABOUT PEO­PLE WHO GOT JOHN­SON & JOHN­SON?

Adults who re­ceived J&J’s sin­gle-dose vac­cine al­ready were el­i­gi­ble for a boost­er of any kind — and the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion rec­om­mends on­ly some of them get an­oth­er.

A new study found a Mod­er­na or Pfiz­er sec­ond shot was su­pe­ri­or to get­ting a sec­ond J&J dose. So the ad­vice is any­one who got a sec­ond J&J shot now can choose a Mod­er­na or Pfiz­er dose.

But if they al­ready had one of those oth­er boost­ers, the CDC says on­ly those who meet the newest cri­te­ria — age or weak im­mune sys­tem — qual­i­fy for an­oth­er.

WHAT PROMPT­ED THE MOVE?

Vac­cines still of­fer strong pro­tec­tion against se­vere ill­ness and death, but ef­fec­tive­ness against milder in­fec­tions wanes months lat­er. The shots al­so don’t work as well against new vari­ants like the su­per-con­ta­gious omi­cron mu­tant as they did ear­li­er in the pan­dem­ic.

That’s why every­one 12 and old­er, re­gard­less of their health, al­ready was urged to get a first boost­er for the best chance at fend­ing off omi­cron. On­ly about half of those el­i­gi­ble have.

With an omi­cron sib­ling caus­ing spikes in in­fec­tions in oth­er coun­tries, of­fi­cials are ner­vous the U.S. is next, prompt­ing ef­forts to of­fer ex­tra pro­tec­tion to the most vul­ner­a­ble.

WHAT’S THE EV­I­DENCE FOR AN­OTH­ER BOOST­ER?

Many sci­en­tists say it’s lim­it­ed, leav­ing pub­lic health of­fi­cials to use their best judg­ment.

Dur­ing the U.S. omi­cron wave, two Pfiz­er or Mod­er­na dos­es plus a boost­er were 94% ef­fec­tive against death or need­ing a ven­ti­la­tor, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent CDC study. That pro­tec­tion was low­est — 74% — in im­mune-com­pro­mised peo­ple, al­though most hadn’t got­ten the al­ready rec­om­mend­ed third dose.

Is­rael be­gan of­fer­ing peo­ple 60 and old­er a sec­ond boost­er dur­ing its omi­cron surge. Pre­lim­i­nary find­ings post­ed on­line last week show there were few­er deaths among peo­ple who chose an­oth­er boost­er com­pared to those who skipped the fourth dose.

The FDA de­cid­ed to set the age lim­it at 50 in­stead of 60 be­cause that’s when chron­ic ill­ness­es like heart dis­ease or di­a­betes be­come more com­mon, leav­ing peo­ple more vul­ner­a­ble to se­ri­ous COVID-19.

WHO RE­AL­LY NEEDS A SEC­OND BOOST­ER?

The CDC says an ex­tra shot is an op­tion — but those most like­ly to ben­e­fit are those most vul­ner­a­ble to se­vere dis­ease, in­clud­ing peo­ple 65 and old­er and 50-some­things who have mul­ti­ple health prob­lems.

WHEN SHOULD I GET IT?

Again, ex­perts have dif­fer­ing opin­ions, part­ly be­cause it’s not clear how long any ex­tra ben­e­fit lasts.

“We can nev­er re­al­ly per­fect­ly time when the next wave is, or when some­one might en­counter in­fec­tion,” said John­son, who sees pa­tients at Johns Hop­kins Bayview Med­ical Cen­ter in Bal­ti­more. “To be as ready as pos­si­ble, I think every­one just needs to stay as up to date as pos­si­ble with their vac­cines.”

An­oth­er dose now may make sense for old­er peo­ple and the im­mune-com­pro­mised, but “there’s less ur­gency in an oth­er­wise healthy per­son,” said Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia im­mu­nol­o­gist E. John Wher­ry.

At 50, Wher­ry said he’s healthy enough to watch if cas­es rise enough to prompt an­oth­er boost­er, but he’d pre­fer to wait un­til fall. That’s be­cause go­ing longer be­tween vac­ci­na­tions al­lows the im­mune re­sponse to bet­ter ma­ture and strength­en.

 

 

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