(CTN News) – COVID booster vaccine targeting Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 variants was endorsed earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Omicron boosters aim to restore protection that has waned since your last COVID-19 vaccine and to specifically target the variants that are widely circulating now in the U.S.
Despite its ability to protect against dominant variants, the Omicron booster is only available to people who have already been vaccinated against COVID-19. Confused? Here’s the deal.
Why you can’t get the Omicron booster if you haven’t been vaccinated against COVID yet
CDC recommends that people keep up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines by getting their primary dose (two shots of Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, or Novavax, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson if you won’t get the others).
Children aged six months through four years are not eligible for booster shots from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In contrast, those aged five and up should receive a booster dose between eight weeks and five months after their first vaccination series.
COVID-19 protection wanes over time, so a booster can help restore it, as well as provide broader protection against newer variants, according to the CDC.
The booster dose, however, is not intended to replace the original vaccination series.
Experts say you should still get your COVID vaccine
While COVID-19 may provide some protection against the virus in the future, the CDC still recommends getting vaccinated against it if you have had it in the past.
People should wait three months before getting their next vaccine dose if their symptoms started or if they had a positive test since reinfection is less likely in the weeks and months following infection.
“We don’t know how long the protection from prior infections will last, but infection with Alpha and Delta variants offers protection for six to nine months,” says Thomas Russo, M.D., professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo.
It is thought, however, that Omicron’s protection from infection lasts much shorter. Dr. Russo says Omicron has changed things.