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COVID booster shots critical to keeping infection numbers down: Who needs to get one ASAP?

Health officials say COVID booster shots will be critical in keeping coronavirus infection numbers down this winter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will have final say on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and its use for booster shots.

Once that hurdle is cleared, health officials say full-implementation of booster shot plans can move forward.

“We’re all of the understanding that we’re just at the beginning of where things got really difficult last year,” Dr. Elizabeth Asiago-Reddy told CNYCentral.

She serves as Upstate Hospital’s Chief Infectious Disease Specialist. Concern among health experts is that as temperatures fall and people go indoors – the rate of COVID-19 will increase.

Both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines could be ready for use in booster shots next week.

Who is eligible for a COVID booster shot?

At this point, Pfizer’s booster shot is available for anyone 18 and older with certain health issues, or high risk jobs. Everyone 65 and older is eligible for this shot. The Moderna booster shot is available in smaller doses than the first vaccine for the same people.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is different. It was originally marketed as the ‘one-and-done’ vaccine. However, experts say now after extensive research, a second dose at least two months after original inoculation provides best protection.

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Which COVID booster shot should you get?

A panel of experts with the Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to mixing and matching booster shots. That means regardless the original vaccine – any of the booster shots provide added protection and is safe.

Dr. Asiago-Reddy says this is a huge factor in convenience. “It’s boosting the original response of whatever you got with the first vaccine,” said Dr. Asiago-Reddy, “To not have to worry about which pharmacy or which medical practice they’re going to receive their booster dose will be helpful.”

As a note, Dr. Asiago-Reddy said young, healthy people are still well-protected with their first dose of the vaccine. So that group will not need a booster anytime soon.

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