Medical Column: The Importance of Booster Vaccinations

By: Dr. Jared Harris 
Family Medicine Resident
Colquitt Regional Medical Center

After several variants have appeared since the beginning of COVID-19, it is clear that the impacts of COVID are here to stay and continue to impact millions of people. As communities continue to become vaccinated, the rate of hospitalizations due to other underlying issues have decreased. This shows that the vaccines are working per CDC recommendations. According to the CDC, a fully vaccinated individual has been vaccinated for at least two weeks post their 2nd dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines or 2 weeks out from the 1st dose of the J&J/Janssen vaccine.       

        Studies have shown that the vaccines are effective, but the boosters provide stronger protection from COVID-19. For adults, there are currently two versions of the COVID-19 booster available- Moderna or Pfizer. Regardless of your original vaccine shot (J&J/Janssen, Moderna, or Pfizer), both versions of the booster have been proven to be effective in further protecting oneself from COVID-19, by either preventing infection or by reducing the severity of the disease if infection occurs.

         For parents wishing to help prevent COVID infection in their children, the CDC recommends giving children between the ages of 12-17 should receive the Pfizer booster. Booster vaccines can be taken 5 months after the second dose of either Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, but for those who took the J&J/Janssen vaccine, you are required to wait only 2 months prior to receiving a booster vaccine. Furthermore, for individuals 65 and older living in long term care facilities, the booster vaccine is strongly recommended for increased protection.

As the pandemic continues, it is important to be mindful of the current CDC recommendations regarding COVID-19 exposure, development of symptoms, and behaviors that help decrease transmission such as hand washing for at least 20 seconds. When in doubt, call your family doctor to discuss the next steps to ensure that not only you are protected, but others around you. Despite the hesitations about vaccinations, studies have shown that vaccinated individuals have lower rates of death, are less likely to need assistance breathing via machines, and shorter times in the hospital compared to those who chose to remain unvaccinated.

While it is understandable and reasonable that some people are hesitant to get vaccinated, it appears that the vaccination efforts of billions across the globe is having a positive effect on slowing the spread of this virus. Ultimately, the decision is in your hands; however, studies continue to show increases in protection from COVID-19 for vaccinated and boosted individuals. For those who need additional information, you should contact your family doctor.