What is the difference between this year’s COVID-19 vaccine and the ones from earlier years?
It is important to note that this updated vaccine is not a booster and should not be referred to as a “booster shot,” because it is not boosting existing immunity.
The updated COVID-19 vaccine, recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was designed to build new immunity to variants that are currently circulating in our communities.
Overall, this updated vaccine has demonstrated protective effectiveness against the most common variants in the U.S., including EG.5, FL.1.5.1, and others in the XBB variant family. The updated vaccine should also be effective against BA.2.86, although this variant has not caused a significant number of infections in the U.S. to date.
The updated COVID-19 vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine that's available this fall.
If you previously received a certain brand of COVID-19 vaccine or booster, is it OK to get a different brand of this COVID-19 vaccine?
If you received an mRNA vaccine, it’s preferable to stay with an mRNA vaccine. As long as you’re getting another mRNA vaccine, it doesn’t matter whether you’re getting the Spikevax (Moderna) or Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine.
However, if you cannot receive mRNA vaccines because of hypersensitivity, such as an allergy, Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine is recommended as an alternative.
Is it OK to get this new COVID-19 vaccine as your first COVID-19 shot if you have never been vaccinated before?
Yes. In fact, the CDC recommends that essentially all adults who are not immunocompromised should get one dose of these updated 2023-2024 shots from Moderna or Pfizer, regardless of their prior COVID-19 vaccination history.
For our patients who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and previously unvaccinated, the CDC recommends three doses of the updated COVID-19 vaccine.
Is it still important to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
We know from real-world experience with past variants that people with prior immunity from vaccines, infections, or both, still have protection against severe COVID-19 infection.
Vaccination also remains the best protection from COVID-19-related hospitalizations and death, and they may also reduce your chances of suffering from Long COVID symptoms, which can develop following an acute infection.
With multiple, closely related variants in circulation right now, making sure you’re updated on an updated vaccine will enhance our immune profile against current and newly emerging variants.