Doctors are advising Americans to hold off on getting another booster Covid shot — despite surging Covid cases in the US. Medical experts say for people who are not immunocompromised or extremely vulnerable to Covid, they should hold off until the fall to maximize the protection gained from the updated vaccine.
This is because two new variants, EG.5, or Eris, and BA.X, or Pirola, have been detected in the US recently and are highly mutated. Due to their mutations, doctors say they could be better at avoiding the current vaccine immunity.
This has prompted Covid vaccine manufacturers, such as Moderna, to update their shots in order to better protect against the new strains. Health officials say the new boosters, formulated based on subvariants of the omicron strain, should be available in mid- to late-September and have shown to provide significant antibodies against some of the circulating variants.
While official data suggests Covid cases have nearly doubled in the past month, Dr Jennifer Nuzzo, director of the pandemic center at Brown University School of Public Health, said ‘waiting a few weeks to get the updated shot should be okay’.
Pfizer and Moderna Covid boosters are pictured above in November 2022. Experts say people should wait a few weeks until another updated booster is available before getting another shot
Despite a rise in cases fueled by two new variants, weekly deaths have declined thought to be due to the milder symptoms the new strains cause
‘Reasonably at this point, if you’re not high risk and do not have high exposures, waiting a few weeks to get the updated shot should be okay,’ Dr Nuzzo told ABC news.
There are few instances where Dr Nuzzo recommends people may not want to wait to receive the new booster, including if someone believes they are going to have significant exposures or be in high-risk situations.
Dr. John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, also told the outlet if someone isn’t in a high-risk category, such as having co-morbidities, or isn’t interacting with high-risk family members or friends, they can wait the few weeks until the updated shot is available.
Dr Rajendram Rajnarayanan told DailyMail.com he recommends people get the updated shot ‘as soon as it’s available’ as some vaccine manufacturers, including Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax have provided preclinical data showing their updated boosters work against the top circulating strains.
However, based on how many Americans received the bivalent booster in 2022, people may not be lining up to get this new shot.
Only 17 percent of Americans received last year’s updated booster.
The release of the new vaccine will coincide when many experts recommend people receive their flu shot.
Dr Thomas Moore, an infectious disease physician in Wichita, Kansas, told DailyMail.com it is safe to receive the Covid and flu vaccines at the same time, eliminating the need to make two separate doctor or clinic visits. He, along with other health experts, hope this convenience will entice more people to receive both shots, which could prevent the ‘tripledemic’ that plagued the US last flu season.
During 2022-2023 winter, hospitals saw a surge in patients during the tripledemic, coming in with the flu, Covid and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
This was thought to be spurred on by the lack of immunity against the flu and RSV after having not been exposed to the viruses for several years because of masking and social distancing implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic.