Covid Boosters: How Should I Get Them?
The question is not whether you should get them or not, but it has been mandated by the government and advised by the expert committee on COVID-19 vaccination. It has been recommended that booster vaccinations should be taken no later than nine months.
Singaporeans are informed that they will lose their fully vaccinated status (meaning after 2 full doses of the vaccine) after 270 days if you do not take your booster shots.
So, What Are Booster Shots, and How Do They Help?
Studies show that after getting vaccinated against COVID-19 (no matter which vaccine), the protection against the virus and the ability to prevent infection with variants will tend to wane off, while also being due to changes in variants. With this, it has been advised that we will need booster shots.
Booster shots are additional doses of a vaccine given after the protection provided by the original shot(s) has begun to decrease over time. They increase protection against infection and severe illness from the Omicron variant (at this point of time when the article is released).
As of 13 January 2022, Singapore is leading Asia in terms of booster coverage – with nearly 50% or half of the population who have received booster shots.
The country has also recommended booster shots of a Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine under the National Vaccination Programme for those aged 18 years and above after 5 months after receiving the fully vaccinated status or fulfilling the primary vaccine course, again no later than 270 days as stated to ensure the optimal level of protection from the Omicron variant.
*The primary vaccine course may comprise of either:
- 2 doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines;
- 2 or more doses of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccines as part of a three-dose primary vaccination series; or
- A complete primary vaccination regimen of other WHO EUL vaccines.
Your booster dose can be of either brand of the mRNA vaccines offered under the National Vaccination Programme, and it should not be delayed beyond nine months after the primary vaccine course.
Importance of immunisation
The primary goal of ensuring full immunisation in the COVID-19 pandemic is to protect people against hospitalisation, severe diseases, and ultimately – death. Booster doses are needed if there is scientific evidence that the population is deemed to have insufficient protection against the disease outcomes over time.
To further understand this, different scenarios and situations will call for different decisions for booster shots. Some factors that will determine such measures will be the population, the virus variants, the type of vaccines and the exposure rate.
Can I get a booster if I am affected/ recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection?
There are currently no recommendations for persons who had recovered from COVID-19 infection and completed the recommended COVID-19 vaccination for recovered persons, to receive a booster vaccination. However, it is safe for them to receive a booster.
As a rule of thumb, if you are infected while unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, you need two more doses to be considered boosted.
What is the difference between an Additional Dose and a Booster Dose?
Additional doses are different from a booster dose.
- Additional dose – Also more commonly known as the third dose and beyond are for some people with weakened immune systems. With only two doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, these individuals might not develop enough immunity after vaccination and an additional dose might improve their protection against COVID-19.
- The third dose is advised to be administered at least 28 days after a second dose, and usually should be the same brand as your initial group.
- Booster dose – A COVID-19 booster is given when a person has completed their vaccine series of two doses, and the protection against the virus has decreased over time. Depending on the original series you received, some details will vary. Please check further details with your heathcare professional and review your booster eligibility before receiving it.
- If you are age 18 or older, have received both doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and has been at least 5 months, you should get a single booster dose.
- If you receive the Moderna booster, you will receive half of the original Moderna dose.
- If you are age 12 or older, have received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and has been at least 5 months, you should get a single booster dose.
- Teens ages 12 to 17 should only get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster.
In general, the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine boosters are preferred in most situations.
What are the symptoms for the booster dose?
After receiving the vaccines for COVID-19, the receiver may experience temporary and common symptoms similar to a flu – these will include soreness at the injection area/ needled arm, chills, a fever, muscle and body aches, headaches, lethargy and tiredness for a day or two.
These symptoms do not mean you are sick. They signal that your immune system is responding to the shots and building up protection against the coronavirus.
Remember to turn up for your Booster Shot Appointments!
Let us all keep each other safe! Turn up for your Booster Shot appointments scheduled for you and if you realise that your body is reacting differently for the booster as compared to the initial two vaccine doses, please consult a doctor for a second professional opinion.
Never spread false information! Always clarify any health-related information from verified resources like the Ministry of Health and other official published news before forwarding.