A swift drop in overnight temperatures has many people digging out their warmer clothing, adding heavier bedding, and making lists of fall chores to accomplish around their homes. As we prepare for cooler months, it’s also time to start planning for seasonal vaccines and boosters – but with regards to the latest anticipated COVID-19 booster, it may be prudent to wait a little while longer.
With children, teens and young adults returning to the classroom, as expected, there has been a spike in the number of reported cases of COVID-19. Vaccine manufacturers have been working to update, test, and produce their vaccine formulation targeting the Omicron XBB.1.5 variant – a better match to the currently circulating variants. According to a recent New York Times report, the reformulation will also likely provide some protection against EG.5 – the currently dominant strain in the United States.
The latest COVID booster is expected to be available as early as the end of next week. Infectious disease experts are hopeful that the new vaccine will provide more protection from infection and severe illness. Vaccines have also been shown to shorten a case of COVID. Waiting a bit longer to get a booster will also help ensure greater protection during the peak months when cases are expected to increase most, between December and February.
If you have contracted COVID recently, you may also want to wait a few months before getting a booster shot. A vaccine is unlikely to provide additional protection when antibodies are already elevated due to infection. Meanwhile, people can protect themselves by avoiding large crowds, wearing a well-fitted mask in busy indoor public spaces, and ventilating by opening windows or screen doors.
Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about what vaccines are recommended for you. Older adults may be advised not only to get a COVID booster, but also an annual flu shot, the RSV(respiratory syncytial virus) vaccine, or a pneumococcal vaccination. Healthy adults over the age of 50 should also be vaccinated for shingles with the Shingrix vaccine given in two doses.