Over the past few months, there have been conversations surrounding the taking of booster shots to give long term protection against getting seriously ill from Covid-19. These booster shots are aimed at protecting the older generation of vaccinated people from the Delta variant.
According to the World Health Organization’s Dr Kate O’Brien, there are three main reasons for which booster shots is recommended. The first reason reveals that the booster shots are necessary for immunocompromised people and other individuals who didn’t respond adequately to the first two doses of the vaccine. In their estimation, the booster shots or (third vaccine) will serve as reinforcement just as the two shots did for healthy people.
Secondly, as time goes on, there is the possibility of the vaccines starting to wane or deteriorate, thus, booster shots are needed to revive and strengthen the defences mounted by the two vaccines against Covid – 19. Furthermore, a third dose is needed as insurance against some of the variants that have emerged. As the virus mutates, the possibility of new variants reducing the efficacy of existing vaccines is high. A CDC study of frontline workers found that the vaccines’ effectiveness at preventing infections dropped from 91% (in pre-delta times) to 66% after delta became dominant. Due to this, the third dose will provide the security needed to prevent the variants from rendering the vaccines almost powerless.
According to the American CDC, Data from a small clinical trial show that a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished their primary series 6 months earlier. This means that with an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant. In light of this, citizens from developed countries, especially the United States of America, are at liberty to opt for a booster shot to insure them against COVID-19.
The Mix and Match Strategy.
The CDC on October 21, 2021, approved booster shots for all adults who got Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot Covid vaccine and a select group of fully vaccinated Moderna recipients. According to CNBC.com, this approval has opened up booster doses to more than 15 million people who have been inoculated with J&J’s shots and the more than 69 million people who have been fully immunized with Moderna’s vaccine.
As the booster shots are being rolled out, experts are recommending the mix-and-match or mixed-dose strategy. This strategy, according to the New York Times could reduce the appeal of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and provide flexibility to doctors and other vaccinations. The strategy will see booster-eligible people having the option of getting a new dose of any approved Covid vaccine, regardless of the one they initially received. Thus, any booster-eligible person can now get a new shot of Pfizer, Moderna or J&J with the flexibility to choose, based on their individual circumstances.
According to a study by the National Institute of Health, Covid-19 vaccine recipients are better off getting a booster shot from Pfizer or Moderna. The study which saw about 450 adults who have received one of the three regimens, J&J’s, Moderna’s or Pfizer’s showed that, although all the combinations boosted antibody levels higher, Pfizer’s and Moderna’s boosters appeared to work best.
Furthermore, the study suggests that volunteers who originally received the J&J vaccine appear to have gotten a better immune response if they got a booster made by Pfizer or Moderna. Perhaps, this explains why the US authorities approved booster shots of the Covid vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech in September to a number of Americans, including the elderly, adults with underlying medical conditions, and those who work or live in high-risk settings.
This story is supported by Journalists for Human Rights under the Mobilizing Media to Fighting Covid-19 project.