We are currently amidst the third wave of COVID-19 and have been witnessing a surge in cases with the emergence of the new variant, Omicron. With this highly contagious variant, the test positivity rate is rising, raising concerns all over the world.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from severe disease due to SARS-CoV-2. While vaccines are the best defense we possess right now against COVID-19, studies have shown that their effectiveness drops faster amongst those who have a lower immunity.
As a solution to this concern, the country has kickstarted the process of providing an additional dose of protection or a booster dose of vaccination. Here let’s understand all about the COVID-19 booster shots.
What are COVID-19 booster shots?
As the name suggests, a booster dose is nothing but a third dose of vaccine. It is given 9 to 39 weeks after completion of the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. You will be given a booster shot of the same vaccine that you have taken previously. For example if you have taken two doses of Covishield then you will be receiving a booster shot of the same vaccine and the same applies for other vaccines.
The side effects of the third shot appear to be similar to that experienced with the previous doses. It may include fever, muscle pain, headache, and also pain and swelling at the injection site. You should contact your doctor in case of any unusual side effects or symptoms.
Who is eligible for the booster dose?
The precautionary COVID-19 vaccination or the booster dose is currently indicated for:
- Healthcare or frontline workers.
- Individuals who are above the age of 60.
- Immunocompromised individuals or those with comorbidities (chronic health conditions).
Why do we need booster shots?
It is a known fact that the authorized vaccines provide a strong defense against COVID-19. At the same time it is seen that the effectiveness of the vaccines starts weakening with time. This can be risky especially to the vulnerable population.
Receiving a booster dose provides greater protection from severe disease, hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 compared to only being fully vaccinated. It is known to provide an additional protection against the emerging variants of Coronavirus.
A booster shot helps in increasing your immune response. It tricks your immune system into thinking that it is encountering a pathogen and helps increase the quality and quantity of the antibodies (proteins generated by your immune system to fight against the pathogen) produced.
Through a process called antibody affinity maturation, your immune system learns to do a better job at recognizing a pathogen and making antibodies that bind more tightly to their target. For the SARS-CoV-2 virus, these matured antibodies can be more effective at recognising variants with multiple mutations.
How to register for the dose?
The eligible candidates who have completed both the vaccine doses can directly walk-in to your nearest vaccine centers or schedule an online appointment through the CoWIN app portal: https://www.cowin.gov.in. CoWin will be sending reminder messages to all eligible candidates and the dose will be reflected in the digital vaccination certificates.