By Dr. Henning Ansorg, M.D., FACP, Health Officer County of Santa Barbara, Department of Public Health
Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster doses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup followed suit and recommended a booster dose especially for persons over 65 and to persons with chronic medical conditions.
These decisions, as well as the authorization to allow for mixing and matching of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers for boosters, will allow more Californians to increase and maintain a robust protection against infection heading into the winter months.
- The use of a single booster dose (at half the dose of an initial vaccine) of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine that may be administered at least 6 months after completion of the primary series to individuals:
- 65 years of age and older
- 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19
- 18 through 64 years of age with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2
- The use of a single booster dose of the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) COVID-19 Vaccine may be administered at least 2 months after completion of the single-dose primary regimen to individuals 18 years of age and older.
- Heterologous (or “mix and match”) booster doses are authorized. This means that any vaccine type may be used as a booster irrespective of the initial vaccine received.
Why do I need a booster shot?
COVID-19 booster doses reignite the immune response that got initiated by the first two doses (or one of Dose of Johnson & Johnson). Many vaccines are given in a series of three or more doses to have an optimal effect (i.e. Hepatitis B or MMR).
Booster doses for Pfizer and Moderna should follow the second dose by at least six months.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be followed by a second dose 2 months after the initial dose.
If I need a booster shot, does that mean that the vaccines aren’t working?
No. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. However, waning levels of antibodies can lead to reduced protection, especially among persons over 65 or individuals of any age with chronic medical conditions.
Where do I get a booster shot?
Booster shots can be obtained at local pharmacies and in some instances, through your primary care provider. MyTurn.ca.gov is another option to schedule a booster.
It is perfectly safe to receive a COVID-19 booster and the Influenza vaccine at the same time.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health website has a list of pharmacies and community events that provide boosters here.