By DeeDee Stiepan
A new study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirms what Mayo Clinic and other experts have been saying: COVID-19 booster vaccinations improve protection against severe illness and hospitalization. The study examined people who had three doses of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, as well as whether it was a booster dose or the No. 3 dose for people who are immunocompromised.
“The third dose actually decreased COVID-19-associated hospitalizations significantly ― more than the two doses alone,” says Dr. Abinash Virk, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist.
Dr. Virk says much has been learned about the effectiveness of booster vaccinations in the short time they’ve been available.
“Clearly, having the No. 3 dose ― the additional dose for immunocompromised people or the booster in healthy people ― does further improve your protection against hospitalization and severe disease.”
When should you get a booster vaccination?
Mayo Clinic recommends getting the COVID-19 booster vaccination five months after you’ve completed your last dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two months after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. These recommendations also apply to those who were recently infected with COVID-19.
“If somebody has had their primary series and they got COVID-19 infection, they should get their COVID-19 booster as long as it’s been five months since their last dose of the messenger RNA (Moderna or Pfizer) vaccine, and they’re out of isolation,” says Dr. Virk.
Dr. Virk says there’s still a lot to be learned about COVID-19 infection and natural immunity. For that reason, people shouldn’t rely on protection from natural immunity alone. It is safer to get COVID-19 protection from getting vaccinated than from getting COVID-19 itself. That’s because COVID-19 carries risks of severe disease and other complications.
“We know people can still get reinfected. We’ve seen that with omicron already.
The sooner you get vaccinated, the higher your immunity will be, the more the protection you will have from getting COVID-19 again.”