A booster shot is an additional dose of vaccine you get after your original shot or shots start to wear off. The CDC recommends that you get one updated (bivalent) booster if you are age 5 years and older and it has been at least 2 months since your last COVID-19 vaccine dose.
This could have been either your final primary series dose, or an original (monovalent) booster.
If you have gotten more than one original (monovalent)
A booster helps keep your body’s defenses strong, even against variants. So what does that mean for everyday life? Can you go back to your pre-pandemic norms?
What a Booster Does
A booster contains the same ingredients and dose as your other vaccine shots did. Older COVID-19 boosters are called “monovalent” because they protected against the original COVID-19 virus. They do provide some protection against Omicron, but not as much as the updated (bivalent) boosters.
Pfizer and Moderna, have each developed updated (bivalent) COVID-19 boosters. They are called “boosters” for a reason -- they boost your immunity after your initial shots start to weaken.
This gives you a leg up on severe complications if you do get COVID-19, lowering your risk of hospitalization and death. You’re about three times less likely to test positive for COVID-19 and 41 times less likely to die from it compared to someone who is unvaccinated.
But even though your chances of getting or giving the virus are much lower, they’re still not zero. So the more layers of protection you have, the better you safeguard your health and your community.
What’s Safe After a Booster?
While you may be well protected with a booster, others are still at risk. This includes people who aren’t vaccinated and people who are immunocompromised. Keeping up with public health safety measures -- even though you have the maximum doses of vaccine protection -- helps slow the spread of the virus.
You should continue to:
- Wear a mask when you are in a public space if the COVID-19 Community level is high.
- Distance yourself at least 6 feet from people you don’t live with.
- Avoid crowded areas and places that don’t have good ventilation.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
It’s always smart to steer clear of sick people when possible and stay home any time you have respiratory symptoms.
The Future of COVID-19
Researchers say COVID-19 probably won’t go away completely. Instead, it’s more likely to become endemic. An endemic disease is one that is always present in a certain population or area. For example, the flu is endemic in the U.S., while malaria is endemic to many tropical areas.
An endemic disease is also more predictable than a pandemic. Experts have some idea of when it will surge and what the ballpark number of infections will be. COVID-19 is still unpredictable, with spikes in cases after variants emerge. And endemic doesn’t mean “less infectious” or “less deadly.” It’s more stable in terms of numbers, but not necessarily less dangerous to public health.
Above all, the best course of action is better safe than sorry. Keep on masking, distancing, washing hands, and watching for symptoms.