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Another COVID shot? Details on the new COVID-19 vaccine and who should get it

Thursday, November 16, 2023 11:06 AM

By NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health

Fall weather is here, and so are the respiratory viruses that circulate in the colder months.

Along with your flu shot this fall, it’s important to get another COVID-19 shot.

In September 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved and authorized an updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for anyone age 6 months or older. The shots are reformulated to target subvariants of omicron that are the most prevalent strains of the virus circulating in the U.S. this fall.

“The immunity afforded by the previous year’s COVID vaccine does wane with time and is not as effective against newly circulating variants,” said Jonathan Pinsky, MD, medical director of infection control at Edward Hospital in Naperville. “As antibody levels gradually fall and lineages of the omicron variant evolve, those antibodies don’t neutralize the newer lineages as well.”

Both Pfizer and Moderna provide the updated vaccine.

Who should get it?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended anyone 6 months or older get the updated shot this fall. If it’s been two months or longer since your last COVID-19 vaccine, you should get the updated one, the organization said. If you’ve had a recent COVID-19 infection, you can wait three months after recovering to get the updated shot, Dr. Pinsky said.

Dads and kids

In its authorization, the Food and Drug Administration specifically recommended:

  • People age 5 and older receive one dose of the updated vaccine, at least two months after the last dose of any COVID vaccine, regardless of previous vaccination.
  • Children ages 6 months through 4 years who were vaccinated against COVID-19 previously can receive one or two doses of the updated mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, with the timing and number of doses depending on the previous COVID vaccine they received.
  • Unvaccinated children ages 6 months through 4 years can receive three doses of the updated authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or two doses of the updated authorized Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Why do we need it now?

While many people have either been vaccinated or have had COVID-19, that immunity wanes over time. And the virus still poses a serious threat to people with weakened immune systems. The reformulated vaccines target the variants circulating now and can provide protection against potentially deadly symptoms that would require hospitalization.

Vaccination also helps protect you from long COVID, a potentially debilitating condition that can develop during or after an infection and remain for an extended period of time.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from COVID-19.

“It’s especially important for those at high risk for severe infection and hospitalization to get the new vaccines, including the elderly, immunocompromised and those with certain underlying medical conditions,” Dr. Pinsky said.

Can we get a flu shot and a COVID-19 shot at the same time?

Yes. If you’re due for both and the timing is right, there is no harm in receiving both shots at the same time. The CDC recommends annual flu shots for everyone age 6 months and older.

As the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, the vaccine will also continue to be updated. It’s anticipated that the vaccine will need to be updated each year, much like influenza vaccines are updated each year, Dr. Pinsky said.

NorthShore University HealthSystem has appointments available for the updated COVID-19 vaccine at various locations. Schedule now.