At Everest Urgent Care we understand that an ever-changing virus with ever-changing rules often leads to more questions than answers. You might be wondering who is eligible for a COVID-19 booster? When can I get a COVID-19 booster? Do I have to use the same vaccine brand? And where can I find COVID-19 booster shots near me? If you need answers to questions like these, the medical expert team at Everest Urgent Care is here to help.
Why Should I Get a COVID-19 Booster Shot?
As we learn more about the virus, including the new Omicron variant, health agencies continue to conduct scientific research and work closely with pharmaceutical companies to develop life-saving solutions. It all began with developing COVID-19 vaccines, first for the elderly and people with underlying health conditions who were most at risk. And, now at Everest Urgent Care, we have COVID-19 vaccines available for anyone above the age of five.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that all COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States are safe and effective, and that most people who are fully vaccinated are relatively well-protected from serious illness or death caused by COVID-19.
However, no vaccine is 100% effective, and even the best vaccines often become less effective over time. Early research on vaccines that use mRNA to protect us from the COVID-19 virus–like the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna–suggests that they too will eventually lose some of their power to fight infection, regardless of the variant of the virus (Alpha, Delta, Omicron, etc.).
Getting a booster shot after your first round of the COVID-19 vaccine can help supercharge the vaccine’s effectiveness. That is why the CDC strongly recommends all adults eighteen and older get a COVID-19 booster shot, particularly if your immune response is already weak or likely to weaken over time. Booster eligibility for those who received the Pfizer vaccine series is even younger.
The Immune System and COVID-19
Our immune system plays a vital role in keeping us healthy. This complex network works hard to protect the body by fighting invasive viruses, germs and even cell changes that can cause cancer and other diseases.
According to the CDC, nearly 3% of U.S. adults have a weakened immune system and fall into the “immunocompromised” category. Whether this is caused by disease or medication, an immunocompromised person has a harder time fighting off infection than a healthy person does. Their immune system might not respond as well to initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine–and the response it does have will be more likely to wear off over time.
There are many diseases and medications that can suppress your immune system, including:
- Chronic lymphocytic or chronic myeloid leukemia
- Advanced or untreated HIV/AIDS
- Certain genetic disorders
- Anti-cancer drugs
- Post-transplant medications
- Immunosuppressant drugs used to treat autoimmune conditions
- High doses of corticosteroids
- Medical treatments such as bone marrow transplant, stem cell transplant, organ transplant and radiation therapy can impact a person’s immune system as well.
Do you have a weaker immune system? If so and especially if you are moderately to severely immunocompromised, the CDC suggests you get a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This extra dose, which is typically given a month after the second dose, is not technically a booster shot although many people call it that. If you have already had a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, ask your doctor if you still might need a COVID-19 booster shot.
Am I Eligible for the COVID-19 Booster?
After the Pfizer vaccine:
If you got both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and at least five months have passed, you may be eligible to receive a booster shot. The CDC currently recommends a COVID-19 booster shot for the following groups.
Everyone 12 years or older – It is now recommended that everyone ages twelve and over get a booster shot. Higher risk individuals are strongly encouraged to receive a booster shot, including those who are:
- Older adults (65 years and older) – The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, especially for those with underlying medical conditions.
- Long-term care residents (18 years and older) – Because residents in long-term care settings live closely together and are often older adults with underlying medical conditions, they are at greater risk of infection and severe illness from COVID-19.
- People with underlying medical conditions (18 years and older) – The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 can increase for adults of any age who have underlying medical conditions.
- People who work or live in high-risk settings (18 years and older) – People who work or live in certain public settings (such as hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, factories or stores) may be at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure. These include first responders (medical personnel, firefighters, police officers, etc.), teachers, daycare workers, manufacturing workers, corrections workers, public transit workers and grocery store workers.
After the Moderna vaccine
If you got both doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and at least five months have passed, you may be eligible to receive a booster shot. The CDC currently recommends a COVID-19 booster shot for the following groups.
- Adults (18 years or older)
- Higher risk individuals as outlined above
After the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
- If you got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and at least two months have passed, the CDC currently recommends a COVID-19 booster shot for anyone 18 years and older. A single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is less effective than two doses.
When Can I Get a COVID-19 Booster?
Based on current recommendations, people who are eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot must wait at least five months after both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or at least two months after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Do I Have to Use the Same Vaccine Brand?
The CDC says that you can use any of the authorized vaccines for your booster shot.
The three vaccines available today are Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. COVID-19 booster shots are the same formulation as the current COVID-19 vaccines, although the Moderna booster shot contains half as much as the initial doses. For example, if you got the Pfizer vaccine, you could get the Moderna booster shot if you prefer. Some research suggests that mixing vaccines might give you even more protection against COVID-19 infection.
For people who are immunocompromised and receive a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the additional dose should be the same brand as the first two doses. But if the first brand is not known, either brand can be used.
Where Can I find COVID-19 Booster Shots Near Me?
Everest Urgent Care has the medical team in Upper Darby and Chester, PA to meet your COVID-19 needs, including diagnostic testing, antibody testing, vaccines and now booster shots. Count on Everest Urgent Care to provide you with expert and convenient care as we navigate this pandemic together.
At Everest Urgent Care we are dedicated to working with our community in providing COVID-19 education and resources. Follow us on social media to learn about COVID-19 testing and vaccine events in our community.
To learn more about health updates in your specific state, please use the links below:
Get Your COVID-19 Booster Shot Today
At Everest Urgent Care, we are doing everything we can to provide COVID-19 testing, vaccines and booster shots. Stop in or contact us to learn how you can protect yourself and your loved ones even further.