COVID cases have significantly decreased in recent years. In 2021, vaccines were vital in the fight against the pandemic. And even now, they are still crucial for keeping the virus at bay.
Like any respiratory disease, the COVID-19 virus keeps evolving via mutations. Hence, adhering to a regular schedule of booster shots is vital to ensuring your immunity remains effective against new variants.
In this post, we will share everything you need to know about the COVID boosters for Fall 2023. We will answer some frequent questions, like:
- Why should you take the 2023 boosters?
- What is new about the 2023 boosters?
- Who should take them?
- When should you take them?
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Why Should You Take the 2023 Boosters?
In simple terms, COVID-19 is a constantly mutating virus. These mutations pose challenges for your immune system in generating the right antibodies against the disease. In fact, this phenomenon is not unique to COVID-19 and extends to all RNA viruses, such as the flu, which also require periodic booster shots for effective immunity.
Plus, older vaccines seem to lose their effectiveness over time, especially since every new iteration of COVID boosters is different from the last to effectively target the new strains.
What Is New About the 2023 Boosters?
Pfizer and Moderna have each put forward a new mRNA vaccine, both geared towards combating prevalent substrains of Omicron, like XBB1.5/1.16. But Moderna’s studies also point to effective antibody production against EG.5.1, FL.1.5.1, and BA.2.86.
If you are highly allergic and are looking for an alternative to mRNA vaccines, Novavax has received approval for a protein based vaccine. This new vaccine also provides protection against both XBB and EG.5 variants.
Another new development is that the CDC is no longer calling these shots “boosters”. Just vaccines or updated vaccines will be enough, similarly to the yearly influenza shots.
Who Should Get the COVID Boosters in Fall 2023?
The CDC’s advice is straightforward: everyone over 6 months old. The boosters are not only meant to protect against new cases of COVID-19, but they also contribute to lowering the chances of long COVID.
Additionally, these new vaccines are key for the elderly. The CDC reports that in 2023, people aged 65 and over represented almost two thirds of the total hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
As for who shouldn’t get the boosters, only those who have recently been infected with COVID-19 or had a previous booster. However, even in these scenarios, these individuals should consider getting a booster dose two to three months later.
How Should You Stay Up to Date?
The CDC has issued specific guidelines for each age group to help them stay updated with their COVID protection.
- Children aged 6 months to 4 years old need multiple COVID-19 vaccine doses, at least one of which is the 2023 updated vaccine.
- For children aged 5 to 11, a single dose of the updated vaccine is enough to stay protected against serious illness.
- People aged 12 and older should get one dose of the mRNA updated vaccines or two doses of the protein based ones if they are unvaccinated.
- People who are seriously immunocompromised may get more than one dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine. This will change based on their healthcare provider’s advice.
It’s crucial to maintain a vigilant approach to COVID-19. Staying current with vaccinations is essential, and it’s equally important to protect those who are most vulnerable.
Support the elderly members of your family by helping them find information on when and where they can receive their shots and keeping them informed. Additionally, don’t overlook infants; they should also receive their vaccinations, even if they are not the primary at-risk demographic for COVID.
However, our responsibility extends beyond receiving vaccinations. Preventing the spread of COVID also means not transmitting it if you become infected. If you notice any symptoms, get promptly tested and take the necessary measures to minimize their impact.
Need to get tested? Check our international index and find the nearest COVID testing location.