If I Got a Second Booster, Can I Get the New Omicron One?

Back in March, people 50 and over—and younger people with weakened immune systems—became eligible to receive a second booster shot. Can you get another booster if you have had your first booster?

Yes. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at this scenario before authorizing a second booster for Omicron. They knew Omicron specific boosters would soon be available. The Omicron booster could be obtained by anyone, provided that a second booster is approved.

This is due to boosters being an effective way to boost waning immunity. More studies have shown that even the initial surge of virus-fighting antibodies vaccines create can eventually decline. Topping off these levels with a booster shot is crucial in order to protect vulnerable people from getting seriously ill with COVID-19, and that’s what the vaccines have been doing—keeping people out of the hospital and dying of the disease. A second booster can help increase this level of protection. When the antibody levels begin to decline, they will be eligible for the Omicron-specific booster. It’s not a matter of getting one or the other, but getting both when the time comes.

Continue reading: Why You Shouldn’t Wait for Updated COVID-19 Boosters

A second booster is an excellent idea if you are eligible for one. “The threat to you [from BA.5] is now,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the White House, in a July press briefing. If you are not vaccinated to the fullest—namely, not gotten boosters according to the recommendations—you are putting yourself at increased risk.” Cases and deaths are still relatively high across the country; BA.5 is more transmissible than past variants and while vaccines won’t protect you from getting infected in the first place, they will provide some defense from getting hospitalized and getting severe COVID-19.

The booster doses that the FDA is reviewing now—made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna—are different from those that people have received so far. They are bivalent vaccines, meaning they’re directed against two strains of the virus: the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 that previous vaccines targeted, as well as the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which now account for nearly all new infections in the U.S. According to recent data, even those who have been vaccinated with the original strain can still get mild-to-moderate Omicron-related COVID-19. Experts hope the new booster shot will help prevent people getting sick by these Omicron viruses.

FDA and CDC officials are yet to determine who is eligible for Omicron boosts. Pfizer BioNTech requested authorization recently for shots for everyone 12 and above. Moderna, however, submitted an application for those 18-year-olds. The CDC’s vaccine advisory committee is scheduled to meet on September 1 and 2 and may issue more guidance then.

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