The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its vaccination guidelines recently to recommend people 50 years of age and older receive a second COVID-19 booster shot.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with the CDC’s backing, also authorized a second dose to severely immunocompromised individuals ages 12 and up.
But for individuals in these categories, the decision to get a second booster is a complicated one.
Here are some of the considerations health experts say people who are eligible should weigh before getting their next booster if they are already up to date on their COVID-19 shots.
When can I get a second booster shot?
The FDA and CDC have said most adults ages 50 years and older can get a second booster shot of Pfizer or Moderna at least four months after their first booster shot.
Is the second booster shot effective?
That’s the big question right now.
According to a recent study from Israel that looked at how some people tolerated a fourth shot of the Pfizer vaccine, while some people gained immunity against the omicron variant, the protection did not last for long.
“These findings suggest that protection against confirmed infection wanes quickly,” said the study, which was published last Tuesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The study found that protection started to wane after four weeks, but it did provide protection against serious illness.
Should I get the second booster now or wait until the number of COVID infections increases?
According to Dr. Marcus Pereira of Columbia University Medicine, those ages 50 to 60 who are otherwise healthy and do not have any underlying health conditions should consult their doctors about whether it would be reasonable to wait until the COVID infection rate increases.
It takes about a week for the booster to kick in, and protection wanes quickly, according to the Israeli study.
dr. Pereira suggests that those who are severely immunocompromised or over age 65 should not wait to get the second booster because of the increased risk of catching COVID-19 in those groups.
Related stories about COVID-19:
How to get 4 more at-home COVID tests for free
Omicron subvariant BA.2: The new symptoms to look out for
How to get a COVID booster shot at CVS, Walgreens or Rite Aid
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