Well into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we find ourselves equipped to protect ourselves from COVID-related infection, illness, hospitalization and death. We now look at COVID-19 much like we do endemic illnesses, such as the flu, and are approaching it with preparation and prevention rather than panic.
As an example of this strategy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the addition of a new preventive tool. People over age 50 and certain immunocompromised individuals can now receive a second COVID-19 vaccine booster.
According to the CDC, research continues to show the importance of COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses in protecting people from infection and severe illness. With news of the newest omicron subvariant — the highly contagious BA.5 — leading to a surge of COVID-19 cases, the CDC joined the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in encouraging people at greatest risk of serious illness or hospitalization to receive the second booster as soon as they are eligible.
Who can get a second booster dose?
The updated recommendations are:
- People over age 50 may receive a second Pfizer or Moderna booster at least 4 months after receiving the first booster dose.
- People age 12 and older with compromised immune systems may receive a second Pfizer booster at least 4 months after receiving the first booster dose.
- People age 18 and older with compromised immune systems may receive a second Moderna booster at least 4 months after receiving the first booster dose.
- People age 18 and older who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least 4 months ago may receive a second booster dose of either Pfizer or Moderna.
“We want to be proactive, and that is what this added booster is allowing,” says Dr. Abisola Olulade, a family medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. “In the past, when we have seen surges, it’s already too late.”
While Dr. Olulade admits it can be confusing to decide whether receiving the second booster is right for you, she says your primary care provider can answer any questions and address your concerns. She also notes that receiving a second booster is not likely to be harmful and can be extremely beneficial to individuals age 65 and older; age 50 and older with underlying medical conditions; and age 12 and older with compromised immune systems.
“It is important to remember the risk of having side effects with this booster is relatively low,” she says. “So I encourage you to weigh the benefits of the second booster — what I am calling an insurance policy — against the very real risks of severe illness due to COVID-19 infection.”
How to get a second booster dose
Booster doses are available at community pharmacies and vaccination sites across San Diego. You can also schedule an appointment or find a walk-in location on MyTurn.ca.gov. You do not need to return to your original vaccination site to receive a booster.
Remember to bring your COVID-19 vaccination card with you. If you have lost your COVID-19 vaccination card, you may request proof of vaccination through the San Diego Immunization Registry by filling out the SDIR form or request a link to a QR code or digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccination record.