Booster shots help protect against symptomatic COVID-19

A COVID-19 vaccine (FILE)
A COVID-19 vaccine (FILE)(WVIR)
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 2:45 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - As thousands get ready to travel for Thanksgiving, experts at UVA Medical Center are reminding people who is eligible for boosters against COVID-19 and when you should get one.

While the first round of all three vaccines still works to keep you out of the hospital, that booster dose helps keeps symptomatic coronavirus at bay.

“I think that if you had two shots of the mRNA vaccines, you are protected from really the severe terrible disease that brings people into the hospital,” Dr. Bill Petri with UVA Health said.

That booster helps prevent symptomatic COVID-19 infections.

“When we look at health care providers who were vaccinated early on with the mRNA vaccines, is that they become susceptible to symptomatic COVID-19, but not severe enough to hospitalize them, and that on average is starting to show up about six months or so after the primary series has been completed,” Petri said.

The timing of that booster shot depends on your first dose

“So if you had the J&J vaccine, if two months have elapsed, then you’re eligible for the booster, and that’s everyone who got J&J,” Petri said.

He says those who got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine are still better off than the unvaccinated, but getting a booster should be on their to-do list.

“If you had that more than two months ago, you should go ahead and get boosted because you probably have the least protection of anyone who’s vaccinated,” Petri said.

Those who got the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna shot have a bit more time: “For the mRNA vaccines, at six months after you finished the vaccination. For J&J, it’s two months,” Dr. Petri said. “For the Pfizer and Moderna, it’s a little bit more restrictive than that. It’s over age 50, or having an underlying medical condition, or being in at-risk setting like, for example, residence in a long-term care.”

That first round of vaccines still provides a lot of protection.

“Not for a minute, though, should someone feel like that they’ve not been vaccinated if they’re like six months out, because there’s still like a fair amount of protection. These vaccines are just so wonderful,” Petri said.

The same guidance for the first round of vaccines applies to boosters, too: Dr. Petri says give your immune system about two weeks to get caught up and you should see a twenty-fold increase in antibodies against the virus.

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