Your Covid-19 questions answered

All you need to know about booster shots and when you should take it

A booster shot, or a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, is a jab administered to maximise vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.
A booster shot, or a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, is a jab administered to maximise vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.
Image: 123RF/ssilver

A booster shot, or a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, is a jab administered to maximise vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.

Boosters are not given in SA yet, and their efficacy is still being studied by local authorities.

This week, pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech submitted data to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support the evaluation for a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

In a statement, the companies said people who received a booster shot showed “a favourable safety profile and robust immune responses”.

The data will also be submitted to the European Medicines Agency and other regulatory authorities in the coming weeks.

“Vaccination is our most effective means of preventing Covid-19 infection — especially severe disease and hospitalisation — and its profound impact on protecting lives is indisputable. Still, with the continuing threat of the Delta variant and possible emergence of other variants in the future, we must remain vigilant against this highly contagious virus,” said Albert Bourla, chairperson and Pfizer CEO. 

Bourla said the data suggests a third dose of Pfizer’s vaccine elicits antibody levels that significantly exceed those seen after the two-dose primary schedule.

CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, Ugur Sahin, said the initial data indicate that companies may preserve and even exceed the high levels of protection against the relevant variants using a third dose of its vaccine. 

“A booster vaccine could help reduce infection and disease rates in people who have previously been vaccinated and better control the spread of virus variants during the coming season,” he said.

WHEN CAN I GET THE BOOSTER SHOT?

In SA, information on when people can take booster shots has not yet been made public. 

In the US, the FDA along with Pfizer and BioNTech said the rollout for booster shots would begin in September and they would be offered to all Americans. 

Those who recently received their second vaccine jab will wait at least eight before they receive the booster shot. 

“Individuals who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, including many healthcare providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster. 

“We would also begin efforts to deliver booster shots directly to residents of long-term care facilities at that time, given the distribution of vaccines to this population early in the vaccine rollout and the continued increased risk that Covid-19 poses to them,” said the FDA

The drug administration said it also anticipates booster shots will likely be needed for people who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. 

“Administration of the J&J vaccine did not begin in the US until March and we expect more data on J&J in the next few weeks. With that data in hand, we will keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J booster shots as well."