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Explainer: What To Know About Covid-19 Booster Shot

Paynesville – A booster shot is an additional dose of the Covid-19 vaccine that is recommended by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and here in Liberia by the National Public Health Institution of Liberia (NPHIL) for people who are 12 years old and above. It  helps further boost their immune system against the coronavirus virus disease.

The UK National Health Services also states that “a booster dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine helps improve the protection you have from your first two doses of the vaccine,” adding that it gives “longer-term protection against getting seriously ill from COVID-19”. This means, a person who is fully vaccinated and then takes a booster shot is less likely to get seriously ill when he or she contracts Covid-19.

Also, the World Health Organization recommends booster dose to be administered to a vaccinated population that has completed the primary dose of the vaccine. A primary dose is the first shot or series of shots a person is required to take as immunization against the virus.

For example, if you have already taken your two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (primary dose) or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson (primary dose), then you are qualified to take a booster shot. Please note that you must complete your primary shot(s) and ask health authority when you will be qualified to take a booster shot before getting one.

The WHO adds that “the objective of a booster dose is to restore vaccine effectiveness from that deemed no longer sufficient”. Because all COVID-19 vaccines’ antibody level can gradually decline, scientists say booster shot helps to enhance the antibody level in the vaccinated person.

When to Get a Booster Shot

The CDC  now recommends booster shot to be taken five months after the completion of the primary series of Pfizer vaccine for people who are 12 years or older. This means, a person is allowed to take a Pfizer booster shot five months after taking the primary does of the Pfizer vaccine.

For those who have already taken the primary shot of the Modena vaccine, you can take the booster shoot at least six months later but must be 18 years old or above to be eligible.

Meanwhile, those who have taken their primary shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are 18 years old or above can also take a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, which the CDC suggests are “preferred in most situations”.

This means, you may be given a different type of booster shot (vaccine) than the primary one you took. For example, if you took Johnson & Johnson vaccine as a primary vaccine, you may be given a Pfizer vaccine. Also, the UK health authority states that “Most people will be offered a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine” even though their primary vaccine was a different brand of vaccine.

“This means your booster dose may be different from the vaccines you had for your 1st and 2nd doses. Some people may be offered a booster dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine if they cannot have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine,” the NHS states on its website.

Can Booster Shot Protect You Against Omicron?

Data show that COVID-19 boosters help broaden and strengthen protection against the Omicron variant and other variants. Researchers in the UK have found that booster shot provides up to 80% protection against the Omicron variant. The study also found that booster shot can restore antibody levels to their peak values—providing more robust protection against Omicron. Additionally, scientists have stated that “the best defense against all viral variants that cause COVID-19 is a full dose of a vaccine followed by a booster shot several months later”.

Is Booster Shot Available in Liberia?

In Liberia, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) has said that the Booster Shot is available and is encouraging people to take the shot three months after being vaccinated with the primary shot(s). So, if you have taken your two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, you have to wait for three months before getting the booster shot; also, if you have taken the single shot of the Johnson & Johnson, you will also have to wait for three months before taking the booster shot.

NPHIL has also announced that Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca booster shots are now available in the country and can be taken at the John F. Kennedy Hospital in Sinkor and the GSA Compound on UN Drive in central Monrovia.

Like all health authorities, NPHIL has continued to emphasize that vaccination is one of the best measures to protect against severe disease, hospitalizations, and death from COVID-19.

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Local Voices Liberia is a network of dedicated Liberian journalists based in the 15 counties working to lift the development concerns and progress of rural communities.

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