September 28, 2023

Comparing COVID-19 booster shots–and whether to wait

Editor's Note

With COVID-19 rates rising again, and winter cold and flu season around the corner, it is time for healthcare personnel to get a COVID-19 booster shot to help protect against illness–and recommend patients to do the same. In a September 2023 TIME Magazine article, doctors weigh in on the various options and whether there is a reason to wait to get the updated vaccine. 

Some highlights:

  • There are currently two COVID-19 vaccine options—both mRNA-based—made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. 
  • These vaccines are both approved for people 12 years and older, and they have an emergency use authorization for children under 12.
  • The US Food and Drug Administration is also reviewing data from Novavax, which is making a vaccine based on recombinant viral proteins.
  • The updated mRNA shots target XBB.1.5, a different variant than the ones currently circulating but studies show they still produce a strong antibody response against the newer variants like EG.5 and BA.2.86.
  • Although it is not available yet, doctors say it is possible in theory that levels of viral protein may be higher with Novavax than mRNA vaccines, which could translate into stronger immune responses. 

Bottom line? A COVID-19 booster now will offer earlier protection, and if people follow that in the future with a booster that works by a different mechanism, such as the one under review from Novavax, they can do so without worry.


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