The difference between COVID-19 ‘booster shot’ and a third dose of the vaccine


TOPEKA (KSNT) — The battle over COVID-19 “booster shots” is delivering a shot of controversy. Last week, immunocompromised Americans were urged to get a third dose of the vaccine. We are learning everyone eligible to get the vaccine will need a booster dose.

Right now, the third dose is only for immunocompromised individuals. Some examples of people who can receive the dose are those who have already received the full doses of Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine and have a weakened immune system.

Immunocompromised people need the third dose because their bodies may not have adequate immune responses from the first two doses. The third dose could literally be a lifesaver.

Booster shots on the other hand are for those who are not immunocompromised and would get an additional Pfizer or Moderna shot eight months after their second dose. This is to keep immune levels high enough to stay safe because the protection from the initial two doses can wear off over time.

“What you’re hearing in the media about booster doses coming in September, after eight months they think there might be some weaning of your protection and you need a little bit of a nudge back up again,” said Shawnee County Health Officer Dr. Erin Locke. “With the third dose, you really should be thinking of that as an addition to the primary series of getting the vaccine.”

Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients are currently not in need of a booster shot or third dose. This is because there is not enough data at this time. It could be weeks until we know if those recipients will need a booster as well.

Health officials are urging those who are healthy and waiting on their turn to get a booster shot to wear a mask and social distance until they are eligible.

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