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When should I get the new Omicron COVID-19 bivalent booster?

When is the best time to receive the updated Omicron booster vaccine?

Although a person’s schedule may change based on health, occupation, or travel plans, officials generally recommend getting the extra bivalent dose before the busy fall and winter holiday season.

With Halloween just over a month away, “it’s a good idea to plan to increase your protection by getting this updated booster in the coming weeks,” said Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

dr Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at UC San Francisco, suggested that eligible people get both the new booster and the flu shot no later than October.

“If you’re trick-or-treating for Halloween and haven’t had your flu shot or booster yet, that’s probably the time you really should run out and get vaccinated,” he said.

Authorities say it takes two weeks after the injection for the full protective effect of the booster. The maximum effectiveness of the injection will be a month after the injection, but people should enjoy a good degree of protection for four to five months, according to Chin-Hong.

The updated injection is known as a bivalent booster. Unlike the conventional monovalent vaccine and the booster, which was designed only against the original strain of the coronavirus, the new vaccine targets the original strain and Omicron’s sub-variants that have dominated the US in recent months, including BA.5.

The updated boosters mean that most Californians “will be able to strengthen their protection against COVID-19 as we head into the fall and winter seasons,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly and Dr. Tomás Aragón, chief health officer. California public and state health officer, said in a joint statement earlier this month.

“Because protection against infection can decrease over time, updated boosters are a safe way to maintain protection and reduce the most serious outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization, prolonged COVID, and death,” he continued his statement.

During the first fall and winter wave of the pandemic in 2020, coronavirus cases in California began to rise in November and accelerated sharply in December. Last year, cases began to rise in December.

People who have not been boosted or recovered from a coronavirus infection this calendar year should plan to get the new vaccine sooner rather than later, Chin-Hong said.

And those who have a big trip coming up, or are headed somewhere with a higher risk of exposure, may want to schedule their booster accordingly, at least two weeks before their event.

But Ferrer and Chin-Hong say that people at higher risk of severe illness, such as the elderly, immunocompromised or pregnant, should get the new booster without delay.

“People who are at risk of serious complications … I would probably go ahead and give it to them now because that’s really my priority group,” Chin-Hong said.

However, there are a few reasons why it’s okay to delay getting a booster.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention generally suggests that residents refrain if it has been less than three months since they tested positive for coronavirus or began experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, whichever comes first.

Other factors could alter that time, such as the person’s risk factors for developing serious illness.

A person must also be at least two months removed from their last conventional vaccine or booster dose before receiving the updated booster.

It’s not dangerous to get the new booster sooner than recommended, Chin-Hong said. But waiting for enough time to pass will help produce a more effective immune response.

For those at lower risk of severe illness from COVID-19, some experts say it may be reasonable to wait a bit, timing the injection a little closer, but not too close, to Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. .

“While it is humbling to look back and remember the enormous impact of COVID on our lives, we are also encouraged as we face our third winter with COVID as we head into the colder months with an updated fall booster that it matches the variants currently circulating,” Ferrer said during a recent briefing.


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