It may be time to get your COVID-19 vaccine again.
There’s a new booster that’s coming out to guard against the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that it was recommending the vaccine, which is being produced in versions by Moderna MRNA, +3.18% and Pfizer PFE, -0.20% -BioNTech BNTX, -2.06%, for people 6 months of age and older.
Here are answers to some common questions about the shot — and what you may need to know before you receive it.
Why are we seeing another booster?
Boosters are all about maintaining protection against the virus as new COVID-19 variants emerge. The CDC said: “The updated vaccines should work well against currently circulating variants of COVID-19, including BA.2.86, and continue to be the best way to protect yourself against severe disease.” The CDC also noted that “protection from COVID-19 vaccines and infection decline over time. An updated COVID-19 vaccine provides enhanced protection against the variants currently responsible for most hospitalizations in the United States.”
So, everyone who is 6 months or older should receive it?
That’s the CDC’s recommendation, but not everyone sees this booster as a firm requirement, depending on various medical and other factors.
Dr. Paul A. Offit, a pediatrician with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who specializes in infectious diseases, told MarketWatch that the new vaccine is a must for some who are at higher risk for developing serious illness, such as people who are over 75, people who have certain health problems (including diabetes, obesity or chronic lung or heart disease) and people who are immune compromised.
And what about the others? Offit said it can be a case of “low risk, low reward.” Meaning there’s little harm in getting the booster and it may buy “a few months protection against mild disease,” Offit said. But he stops short of saying the booster is an absolute necessity for such people.
Still, CDC director Dr. Mandy K. Cohen counters such an argument. In a column for the New York Times, Cohen noted that all the members of her family, including her 9- and 11-year-old daughters, would be getting the booster. “Some viruses…change over time. This coronavirus is one of them. It finds ways to evade our immune systems by constantly evolving. That’s why our vaccines need to be updated to match the changed virus,” Cohen explained.
What if you recently had COVID? Or have just gotten the previous COVID booster?
Offit said you should wait at least two months — and possibly as long as four months — before receiving the new vaccine.
The CDC said, “You should get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you already had COVID-19,” adding “you may consider delaying your next vaccine by 3 months from when your [COVID] symptoms started or, if you had no symptoms, when you received a positive test.”
When and where can you get the new booster?
The CDC said the vaccine “will be available by the end of this week at most places you would normally go to get your vaccines.”
How much will it cost?
The new shots are expected to have list prices of $110 to $130, but the CDC said, “Most Americans can still get a COVID-19 vaccine for free.” That is, most health-insurance plans will cover the cost.
As for those without insurance, the CDC said there are still plenty of free options, including programs run by local health centers and health departments as well as pharmacies participating in the CDC’s Bridge Access Program. For more information about where to get the booster, go to Vaccines.gov.