Should I get the Omicron booster now or wait a few weeks?

New Omicron-targeted COVID-19 boosters are now available, but many are wondering: should they get the shots now or wait until they’re closer to the holidays?

The short answer is: it depends on who you ask and what factors might increase your likelihood of serious health effects. For those who are at lower risk of exposure or who develop a serious illness, withholding might make sense, according to some experts. But others say it’s best not to hesitate, especially given the potential for another coronavirus rebound this fall and winter.

“We hear from people saying, ‘You know, I want to maximize my protection for late fall and especially the winter holidays. And I could wait.” For people who are relatively healthy and younger, that may be a reasonable estimate,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County.

But she urged residents at higher risk for severe COVID-19 to get the new refresher immediately.

“Older people remain at high risk,” she said. “For high-risk people, I wouldn’t hesitate.”

dr Robert Wachter, chairman of the UC San Francisco medical school, said getting the new booster shot “once it’s eligible seems like a pretty straightforward call to me.”

“While some choose to wait until cases pick up later in the fall, the ‘timing of the market’ doesn’t usually work,” he says tweeted.

As you roll up your sleeves, it’s important to note that it takes two weeks for the full effects of the booster to kick in.

According to UC San Francisco infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, the maximum effectiveness of the Omicron booster is likely to be reached in the four or five months post-injection, with the maximum at one month post-injection.

During the first fall and winter wave of the pandemic, California’s coronavirus cases began increasing in November and accelerated sharply in December. Last year cases started to spike in December.

In addition to individual risk factors, a person’s plans can also play a role in the timing of booster vaccinations. If someone is about to take a trip abroad or go to a large event where there is an increased risk of exposure, a booster at least two weeks in advance can help reduce the chance of infection.

The question of how best to schedule a vaccine is not just limited to COVID-19. Take the flu shot, for example.

Getting vaccinated annually too early can result in peak efficacy waning before the end of the flu season. If you get it late you risk being exposed with no protection.

Regarding the flu, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that “vaccinations should ideally be offered in September or October.” Some have suggested that an ideal time to get the flu shot is mid to late October.

Officials have indicated that the decision to make the updated COVID-19 booster available in September is expected to reduce hospital admissions and deaths. Model studies show that distributing booster shots starting this month could prevent 137,000 more hospitalizations and 9,700 more deaths, compared to when a booster campaign began in November.

Another wrinkle to consider is when a person was last infected with the coronavirus. The CDC suggests waiting three months after testing positive or developing COVID-19 symptoms, whichever came first, before receiving the updated refresher. However, the agency also said other factors could change that timing, such as: B. the level of COVID-19 in the community and the person’s risk factors for serious illnesses.

One of the few hard and fast rules when it comes to timing is that someone must be at least two months from their last vaccination or booster before they receive the updated booster.

But even then, some experts suggest people should wait longer — at least three months — before getting the new refresher, as it might offer better longer-term protection.

Most people 50 and older who got their second booster shot did so fairly quickly after federal authorities gave the go-ahead in late March. According to data recently released by the CDC, many received the supplemental shot in April and May.

And for most individuals ages 5 to 49, “it has been six months or more since their last COVID-19 vaccine” or booster shot, the CDC said in a slide presentation earlier this month.

The updated booster from Pfizer and BioNTech is available for ages 12+, while Moderna’s offering is an adult-only option for ages 18+. Children aged 5 to 11 are entitled to a conventional booster shot.

Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid and the Los Angeles County Department of Health have said they are administering the new Omicron booster.

But it will be a while before other providers are fully utilized. For the past few days, Kaiser’s Northern California system has been offering limited late-September COVID-19 booster shot dates, but appointments were unavailable at many locations. Kaiser’s Southern California System said it expects the updated booster to be available to some extent by next week, but that supply could be limited for launch.

On Monday morning, California’s MyTurn COVID-19 vaccination planning website said it was still not ready to offer booster appointments. They will be offered soon, the website said.

Officials say it’s safe to get the COVID-19 booster and the flu shot at the same time, preferably in separate arms.

However, in a recommendation, LA County health officials said some people — particularly adolescent or young adult males — may want to consider waiting four weeks after receiving the Jynneos vaccine, which is used to protect against MPX, before taking one Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine.

But recently receiving a Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine need not require a delay in obtaining the Jynneos vaccine if it is recommended to prevent the development of MPX disease associated with an outbreak, says the guide.

Health officials in California have recently started using the name MPX — pronounced mpox — in place of monkeypox amid widespread concerns that the older name is stigmatizing and racist. The World Health Organization is in the process of officially renaming the disease, which will take several months.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-09-12/should-i-get-the-omicron-booster-now-or-wait-a-few-weeks Should I get the Omicron booster now or wait a few weeks?

Alley Einstein

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