Vaccine booster

Like new Emerging strains of COVID-19, The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to get updated booster shots. But when is the best time to get a booster if you’ve had the virus or been fully vaccinated?

Developing immunity

The The CDC recommends postponement of boosters until three months after infection with the coronavirus. However, many infectious disease doctors suggest waiting at least six months to a year after infection, depending on age, risk factors for serious illness, and disease tolerance. Getting boosters too soon reduces people’s long-term immunity, says Monica Gandy, an infectious disease physician and professor of medicine at San Francisco General Hospital.

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Personal immune system it takes time between what’s called prime—the actual infection or vaccine—and a boost, Gandhi says. That is why the doses of children’s vaccinations are administered at certain intervals. With enough time, our body’s defense against viral infections (B cells) sit away in our “memory banks” – dormant in the lymph nodes, thymus and bone marrow – until they are needed for a virus attack. Getting a booster too soon after the last booster or infection can interfere with the body’s ability to develop long-term immunity, or “memory cells,” she explains.

“We’re just going back to the principles of vaccinology,” Gandhi says. “The longer you wait between one exposure, whether it’s a booster or an infection, and the next, the stronger the immune response you develop.”

Vaccination against COVID-19

Both vaccination and previous infection provide strong protection against COVID-19, but vaccinating already infected people does not provide additional protection against COVID for several months, concludes a study in Clinical infectious diseases published in July 2022

“What was true in the past may not necessarily be true in the future,” said the study’s lead author, Nabin K. Shrestha, an infectious disease physician at the Cleveland Clinic. Before the Omicron option, people who had COVID-19 were much less likely to get the disease again. The picture changed when Omicron strain appeared in December 2021.

IN Clinical infectious disease report, researchers found that people who had had COVID-19 were more protected than people who had been vaccinated but had not previously had COVID-19. Compared to unvaccinated people who did not have COVID, people who had been vaccinated had a significantly lower risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 on both the pre-Omicron variant and during the Omicron variant phase, which is currently the dominant variant of the coronavirus, researchers said.

Read more: What is long-term COVID and what are the symptoms?

“If you’ve had COVID, you’re pretty much protected for up to a year for the same or similar strains,” says Shrestha, “including the current variant.” People develop stronger immunity from a COVID-19 infection, and it’s longer-lasting than that that they get from the vaccine, researchers reported in Clinical infectious disease in December. “If you’ve had COVID, I don’t think you should get a booster within six months. If there’s a big outbreak of a new variant, you might revisit it. Next, you need to assess your risk tolerance.

Just like the flu vaccine, which is designed to prevent hospitalization and death, the coronavirus vaccine is designed to prevent people from dying or needing to be hospitalized. The Clinical infectious disease a study published in July found that those who had not been vaccinated and had not had the coronavirus were at the highest risk of contracting it.

For the general population, whether to get a booster shot if you’ve had coronavirus in the past six months or received the vaccine comes down to risk tolerance. “If you want to play it safe, six months is fine,” says Shrestha. “If you’re able to tolerate a little bit of risk, I don’t see a downside to waiting a year if you’ve had COVID and recovered. Not everyone agrees.”

Americans are in no rush to get their boosters. According to the latter data from the CDC, about 14 percent of Americans five and older have received the latest booster.

“There is no easy answer to this question,” says Shrestha. “Things keep changing.”

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