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  • Writer's pictureDr. Daniel Biondi

COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters? What to Know.

All currently approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and reduce your risk of severe illness. Vaccines reduce the risk of COVID-19, including the risk of severe illness and death among people who are fully vaccinated. In addition to data from clinical trials, evidence from real-world vaccine effectiveness studies show that COVID-19 vaccines help protect against COVID-19 infections, with or without symptoms.

Vaccine effectiveness against hospitalizations has remained relatively high, however, studies have shown some declines in vaccine effectiveness against getting infections over time, especially with newer variants such as Delta and Omicron. Boosters, though, have been shown to improve vaccine effectiveness.

Everyone ages 5 and above are able to get their initial vaccines. Those ages 18 and older should get a booster shot either 5 months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series, or 2 months after their initial Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. People ages 12 and up may get a booster dose of Pfizer at least 5 months after their initial series of vaccines.

COVID-19 booster shots are the same ingredients (formulation) as the current COVID-19 vaccines. However, in the case of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, the dose is half of the amount of the vaccine people get for their primary series.

Adults and children may have some side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine, including pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. These symptoms don’t occur in most vaccine recipients. When they do occur, they are considered normal vaccine responses and resolve themselves within a couple of days when they occur. Serious side effects are rare extremely rare.

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