What is booster shot; can it help protect against XE variant? Experts answer FAQs
- If you too are planning to get jabbed again but wondering about the purpose of a booster shot, its benefits, side-effects and right gap between the second and third dose, we got some experts to answer FAQs for you.
Amid rising cases of XE variant and the waning immunity acquired by previous two Covid doses, Indian government has announced the beginning of booster drive for all adults. The third shot of the Covid vaccine, also referred to as precautionary dose, could help fight highly transmissible XE and other Covid variants. (Also read: Planning to get your Covid booster shot? Dos and don'ts to follow)
If you too are planning to get jabbed again but wondering about the purpose of a booster shot, its benefits, side-effects and right gap between the second and third dose, we got some experts to answer booster shot FAQs for you.
What is booster shot?
Booster shot is basically the supplementary dose of the immunizing agent. While the first two doses of Covid vaccine is termed as primary vaccination, an additional dose of Covid vaccine is called booster shot.
"Typically vaccines are designed with a prime and boost strategy. For various complicated reasons, we know that when a person is vaccinated once against an infection, it produces a decent immune response. As scientists, we want better. So, it was observed that if we give a second dose after a minimum of 4 weeks, the immune response for that person is better. Similarly, a booster is given outside of the original prime and boost, typically once a year. This serves as a reminder to the body to prepared and respond quickly when it encounters the infection," says Dr Pavithra Venkatagopalan, Director, Covid Task Force, Awareness, Rotary Club of Madras Next Gen.
Is the booster shot different from regular Covid shot?
No. As of today, the regular covid vaccines are the same that are used for booster doses.
What is the right gap between second dose and booster shot?
We know immunity lasts at least upto 9 months, so a a minimum of 9 months gap is recommended between second dose and a booster shot.
“In case someone has caught Covid-19 infection in this period, then the time frame will be 84 days from the date of recovery," Dr Charu Dutt Arora, Consultant Physician and Infectious Disease Specialist Head, Ameri Health, Asian Hospital, Faridabad.
What are the risks of getting third Covid vaccine dose?
No additional risks are seen with third Covid shot. Routine risk of vaccination is present with any vaccine-like allergy, fever, etc.
What are the benefits of booster shots?
It primes the immune system to respond faster when it encounters the infection. It provides additional and prolonged protection from getting infected with Covid.
“There is no risk per se associated with the third dose of COVID vaccine. If someone has had no allergic reactions during their first and second doses, then they won't have any major reaction or side effect with the third dose. However, low grade fever and bodypain can happen in first 48 hours of vaccination," says Dr Arora.
Will booster shot protect me from the latest Omicron XE variant?
Being fully vaccinated and having taken the booster dose definitely reduces our chances of getting a severe infection.
"There is no data at present to show which vaccine is effective against Omicron, XE Variant. But the general perception is booster shots should give protection against all present variants," says Dr Sai Reddy, Consultant Pulmonologist, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad.
“So far, XE variant is not known to the phenomenon of ‘immunity escape'. The booster shot provides good protection against this variant as well. It helps in decreasing the severity of illness and causing minimum hospitalization and complications due to SARS COV-2 virus," says Dr Arora.
Should people who recently recovered from Covid opt for booster shot?
People who got recently infected with Covid should wait at least three months before going ahead for Covid booster.
“People who have recovered from a recent Covid-19 infection can get a booster shot after 84 days of the recovery," says Dr Arora.
For how long the immunity of a booster shot last?
"At present, there is no data that gives adequate information to predict how long immunity with Covid booster is, But the general perception is it would be around 1 year," says Dr Reddy.
“Many literature suggests that antibodies against Covid-19 start to wane off from sixth month onwards. The effect of the booster dose can stay from 6 months to 9 months," says Dr Arora
(With inputs from Dr Pavithra Venkatagopalan, Director, Covid Task Force, Awareness, Rotary Club of Madras Next Gen. and Dr Sai Reddy, Consultant Pulmonologist, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad)