Most should wait for an updated coronavirus booster dose for maximum protection: experts

Despite the increasing number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the past month, experts said most people should wait for boosters to be released before getting another dose.

“If you belong to a low-risk category and do not have ongoing interaction with high-risk family or friends, waiting for the updated booster may be the right decision,” says Dr. John Braunstein, Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital. ABC News medical contributor told ABC News. “It is a very individual decision and unfortunately there is no perfect data on this subject.”

Health officials said the updated booster is expected to be available in mid-to-late September and is intended to protect against newer variants.

“It’s difficult to thread the needle perfectly when it comes to timing of reinforcement. This has always been a challenge, and given how difficult it is to predict the future, it’s really difficult to predict the timing and optimization of protection,” Braunstein said.

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration required vaccine manufacturers to develop boosters for the coronavirus against a sub-variant of the Omicrons known as XBB.1.5, following evidence provided by the vaccine manufacturers.

At the time, it accounted for an estimated 40% of new COVID-19 cases in the country.

Stock photo: Coronavirus vaccine vial on a vaccination record card with a syringe on the side

Coronavirus vaccine vial on vaccination record card with syringe on the side

Stock Images/Getty Images

Now, there are newer variants emerging like EG.5 and BA.2.86. The latter was recently classified as a “variant under surveillance” by the World Health Organization after concerns among some infectious disease experts due to its many mutations.

The expected booster for the fall season showed a significant increase in antibodies against some of these variants currently circulating, vaccine manufacturers told ABC News.

“It’s reasonable at this point, if you’re not at high risk and you’re not at high risk, waiting a few weeks to get the updated shot would be fine,” said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, director of the Center for Epidemiology at Brown University’s School of Public Affairs. Health, ABC News said.

However, there may be certain situations where you may want to play it safe and get your booster potion now.

“If you think you’re going to have a lot of exposure, between then and now, you better have some boost,” Nozzo said. “The best time to get vaccinated is before you become infected.”

Last year’s so-called triple pandemic led to hundreds of thousands of patients being hospitalized with coronavirus, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, sparking concern among state health officials about the upcoming season for this year.

“We’re in uncharted territory. We really don’t know what this season will look like and it will look different in different parts of the country,” said Dr. Manisha Jothani, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health. he told ABC News during a press conference on Aug. 9.

Uptake of the bivalent booster last year was lower than previous COVID vaccines, with only 17% of the total US population receiving a dose, leaving some high-risk individuals even more vulnerable.

Flu shots will also become more widely available in the coming weeks, as experts say it’s safe and effective to receive coronavirus and flu shots at the same visit.

If you feel unsure about how to proceed with your vaccination status, Brownstein said, you can always reach out to your healthcare provider.

“Talking with your doctor should help address any questions you may have and help determine the best course of action for you and your specific situation,” Brownstein said.

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