Even if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, your immunity to COVID reduces over time. Booster shots are needed to maintain your resistance to infection and reduce the chances of the more severe consequences that might lead to hospitalization. The word “viral” means living, viruses reproduce and as with all living things, they change slightly or evolve from generation to generation. To counter these changes, scientists modify our defenses via vaccines to meet the new challenges to our wellbeing. As new COVID-19 variants have emerged, it has been sensible to authorize booster shots to minimize the effect of the two current major COVID variants, the Delta and Omicron variants.

While some have met with the opportunity to take the COVID-19 vaccine with skepticism, few of us seriously reject the idea that immunity prevents the spread of familiar infections, such as the common cold, flu, chickenpox, mumps, and measles – all of these infections are spread by airborne particles. They have been with us so long that we take our high degree of immunity for granted. We forget our childhood vaccinations. And, the evidence suggests that all U.S. approved vaccines provide excellent protection against COVID, including its variants, the need for hospitalization, and death.

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At the moment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has authorized a second booster shot as an option:

  • Adults aged 50 years and older
  • People aged 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised
    • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
    • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
    • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
    • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
    • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
    • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress their immune response
  • People who got 2 doses (1 primary dose and 1 booster) of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

If you are unsure if you qualify under one of the above categories, consult your healthcare provider for more information.

If you are still undecided, here are some other factors which you may want to consider. Most of them are individual, that is, personal to you. But first, the most significant factor is the prevalence of COVID-19 in your community. Suppose you are among those authorized to receive the fourth dose. You are authorized because you are among people considered more likely to be infected by COVID-19 or more at risk from possibly severe side effects.

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Your community is not just your state or even your county. It is the group of people you live with, shop with, work with, and people with whom you have to interact personally. If the COVID infection rate is high, your risk is more significant. Your increased resistance is more valuable to you and your community.

Now for some of the more individual (lifestyle) factors to consider.

  • Do you travel, stay in hotels, eat out or attend indoor meetings?
    • All of these activities increase your risk of infection by the virus
  • Do you have any special events ahead of you?
    • For example, at a wedding or conference, your booster jab could make you both less likely to become infected and less likely to infect others
  • Are you planning to travel abroad?
    • Remember, You need to have a negative test before re-entering the US. Your anti-COVID booster could give you more confidence that you can resist infection while out of the country.

If you decide that you will take the opportunity of a fourth jab, you can be confident that both you and others around you will be safer from the COVID-19 virus.

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