The CDC has given the green light for COVID-19 booster shots for everyone over age 18, prompting questions from patients about what to expect with a third dose of the vaccine.
Health officials, like Dr. Melanie Swift at the Mayo Clinic, say COVID-19 vaccines are doing a good job preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death, even against the Delta variant, but waning immunity is a concern. “Boosting gives you that bigger immune response from your original vaccine, and it also helps you fight Delta better.”
Maryann Venancio from New Jersey was among those opting for another dose of COVID-19 protection. “I have chronic Lyme, and I see an infectious disease doctor, and he advised me that I would be a really good candidate for a booster.”
Dr. Swift says people getting a booster can expect side effects, like a sore arm. “Fatigue, general muscle weakness and headache. Those are more common in younger people. The older you are, the less likely you are to have those side effects. It's very similar for boosters to the pattern that was seen in dose 2 of the MRNA vaccines.”
After receiving a booster shot, Dr. Swift suggests patients stay home and take it easy. To alleviate symptoms, she also recommends drinking plenty of fluids, and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever if necessary. She adds that not having a reaction does not mean the shot didn’t work. “The side effects that we get are due to that robust immune reaction, but our immune reaction is probably more robust than it actually has to be to protect us. And not everybody feels those symptoms the same way.”