What you need to know about getting a covid booster shot

So now you are being bombarded with the CoViD Vaccine Booster and you may have many questions. Misinformation is much more prevalent than good information. Politics are everywhere. Experts who work as underwater basket weavers have much more experience than seasoned physicians. Much of the medical information out there has been corrupted by bad information and politics. How do people get through that? What do you do?

Listen to people who care and work at giving good information.

First, let us start with some disclaimers. Medicine is an art. Doctors preach science. Physicians take science and apply it to life. There are no absolutes in medicine. We take what we think is right, and present it in a balanced, educational way. I am going to attempt to do that here.

Second, it is absolutely okay to disagree with me. This is my interpretation of the data and information that we have up to this point. The information is constantly changing. Over time, the information we thought was correct might turn out to be wrong. Some research is manipulated to say one thing, rather than another. This is where judgment, wisdom, and education come in. One of my favorite sayings is that my medical degree beets your internet degree. I don’t know how long you have been alive, but I went through this with a novel new virus called HIV a few decades ago.

So, let's delve into the research

The research is showing that people who have a non-robust immune system start to lose their resistance after about 8 months of being vaccinated. This is especially true for people with moderate to severe immunocompromise – like diabetics, people with immune disorders, or cancer patients. Not only are the immunocompromised affected by this, but the research is also starting to point toward healthy older people and people with other medical conditions. These individuals do not completely lose their immune response, it just weakens them so the virus can make you sicker the next time it happens.

In addition, there are new strains of the virus popping up. This was expected. The proteins on the virus change to try to get away from the immune response. Again, expected. This is just like the Flu and how we need to take a vaccine every year to fight it.

Another point is that a vaccine does not prevent you from getting sick. It keeps you from getting really sick and possibly preventing severe side effects or even death. If you have been vaccinated, have a strong immune system, and get the CoViD virus – you will still get sick, but just not so sick you are stuck in the hospital, or worse. Also, being vaccinated means that if you get sick again, you will not spread the virus as easily yourself or not spread it at all.

Notice, in all of this information, there is a good deal of variability. Nothing is absolute in medicine. We try to cover 98% of people, but there are always extreme cases.

Looking at the future

Okay, so we have an immune response that putters out, a virus that changes, and everyone responds a little differently. Think of the flu, people! We will have a yearly vaccine, or booster if you will, based on what is out there. This might also happen when our immune system starts to unwind because we are not seeing the virus enough.

Now, some good news. There is research and testing on a new vaccine that will give long-lasting immunity. I don’t want to say permanent, but long-lasting. We will see where that goes.

These are the basic facts we are presented with. Here is what I am suggesting to our patients:

If you have any medical conditions or are over the age of 50, I suggest a booster. We are using the J&J Vaccine as the booster because it is the best match to the new variants coming out. If you want a Maderna or Pfizer, that is fine too.

You need to wait about 6 to 8 months since your last injection. Otherwise, it overlaps, does not help as much, and makes you feel horrible.

So where do you get the raw information?

Unfortunately, unless you are a more senior physician, know the politics and how research can be manipulated, it is very difficult. Everyone is trying to push an idea, or agenda, or way of life right now. Take what you read with a grain of salt. Absolutes do not exist, other than death and taxes.

Try to use good, reputable websites. Remember; Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many other platforms are owned companies that may have a political agenda. Unfortunately, even information from trusted sources could be not-so-trusted due to the political environment. Ask people in the know who are not jaded and are looking at all sides of the argument.

We will do the best we can to get through this together.