Fact sheet: Covid-19 vaccine boosters

The Claim: While some countries across the globe are struggling to vaccinate their populations against the Covid-19 pandemic, others such as Israel are already giving booster shots to all adults and children aged 12 or over, while Russia, Chile, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea are among the countries that have also approved mass boosters for most or all of the population.
The Verdict: claim verdict

While some countries across the globe are struggling to vaccinate their populations against the Covid-19 pandemic, others such as Israel are already giving booster shots to all adults and children aged 12 or over, while Russia, Chile, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea are among the countries that have also approved mass boosters for most or all of the population.

Britain and Germany and others have announced boosters for those considered more vulnerable from Covid-19, such as older people and health workers.

What is a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot?

·         According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, a Covid-19 booster shot, also known as the third dose, is an additional dose of a vaccine given after the protection provided by the original shot(s) has begun to decrease over time.

·         Usually, one would get a booster after the immunity from the initial dose(s) naturally starts to wane.

·         Essentially the booster is designed to help people maintain their level of immunity for longer.

·         It can help protect people with weakened immune systems who did not have a strong enough response to the first two doses of one of the vaccines.

·         Such people can get a third dose as soon as 28 days after a second dose.

Who can get a third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine?

·         According to CDC recommendations, third vaccine doses are available now for people who are considered moderately or severely immunosuppressed.

·         These would include those who:

·         Receive active cancer treatment for tumours or cancers of the blood.

·         Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.

·         Have either had a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.

·         Are diagnosed with HIV and have a high viral load or low CD4 count or are not currently taking medication to treat HIV.

When can one have a third dose of Covid-19 vaccine?

·         People who have an eligible medical condition that causes a suppressed immune system can receive a third dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine as soon as 28 days after the second dose.

·         Johns Hopkins Medicine is offering a third dose to those who are eligible.

Would a third Covid shot have to be the same brand of vaccine received originally?

·         The third vaccine dose should be the same type (Pfizer or Moderna) you received when you were first vaccinated.

Can one get an additional Covid-19 shot if they received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

·         There is no current recommendation for an extra dose for people who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, even if they have a qualifying medical condition. Watch for information from the CDC.

WHO’s position on boosters

·         WHO has said booster doses will exacerbate inequities by driving up demand and consuming scarce supply while priority populations in some countries, or subnational settings, have not yet received a primary vaccination series. 

·         Introducing booster doses, WHO has said, should be firmly evidence-driven and targeted to the population groups in greatest need.

·         The world health body has said to date, the evidence remains limited and inconclusive on any widespread need for booster doses following a primary vaccination series. WHO has said it is carefully monitoring the situation and will continue to work closely with countries to obtain the data required for policy recommendations.

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