Infection and death rates for the Covid-19 pandemic have been steadily decreasing over the last few months, which is a relief to say the least. Mask mandates are being lifted, and people are more and more comfortable returning back to large gatherings and reintegrating into society. With the intensity of the pandemic slowing down, it might be easy to think that means vaccinations and booster shots are no longer necessary, but quite the opposite is true. 

How are vaccinations helping?

Vaccinations and booster shots are precisely why mask mandates have been lifted and infection rates are slowly declining. As coronavirus continues to exist in our society, it can be hard to know when to get boosted. How many boosters do you need? If I’m vaccinated, isn’t that enough? Don’t worry, dear reader. I’ve got the info for you. 

If you have not received your Covid-19 vaccine yet, I highly encourage you to do so. If you have questions or concerns, contact your doctor or pharmacist, and they can assist you. Once you do receive your vaccine, it’s time to think about your booster shot. The Covid-19 vaccine is given in one or two doses, depending on the kind of vaccine you receive. When to get your booster depends on the kind of vaccine you received, and when you received it.

What is the booster shot?

A booster shot is given as one dose, and it helps boost your immunity to coronavirus. Similar to how we get a flu shot every year to help protect us against the flu, booster doses help provide continuing protection against Covid-19. It is worth noting, however, that just because you are vaccinated and boosted, that does not mean you will never get coronavirus. The vaccine and booster ensure that if you do catch Covid-19, you will get less sick, and you will not require hospitalization due to the virus. Similar to how receiving the flu vaccine does not guarantee you won’t get the flu.

Getting the Pfizer vaccine

The Pfizer vaccine is available for everyone 12 years and older. It is given in two doses. The first dose is administered by your pharmacist or doctor, then the second dose is given about 4 weeks after the first dose. Anyone of any age is eligible for their first booster shot five months after they’ve received their full dose of the Pfizer vaccine. If you’re 18 years old or older, your booster shot can be either Pfizer or Moderna, as long as you receive the mRNA vaccine booster. If you are 12-17 years old, your booster shot must also be Pfizer. If you are 50 years old or older, you are eligible for a second booster dose at least four months after your first booster. For people under the age of 50, no word has been given yet on when they are eligible for a second booster.

Similar to the initial vaccine, the booster shot comes with some side effects. In my experience, my booster shot side effects felt like a less intense version of how I felt with my vaccine. I had a headache and body chills, as well as fatigue for a day, then I was back to normal.

Moderna vaccine details

The Moderna vaccine is available for everyone 18 years and older. Similar to the Pfizer vaccine, it is also given in two doses. The first dose is given, then the second is given about 4 weeks after the first. Everyone 18 and older is eligible for their first booster shot five months after their second dose of the vaccine. If your initial shot was Moderna, you can receive Pfizer or Moderna as your booster, as long as the booster shot is also an mRNA vaccine. Similar to Pfizer, adults 50 years old and older are eligible for their second booster at least four months after their first. 

The one-time Johnson & Johnson

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available for everyone 18 years old or older and is given in one dose. You’re eligible for your booster shot at least two months after receiving your J&J vaccine. It’s recommended to receive either the Pfizer or Moderna booster for your booster dose. If you received the J&J vaccine for your vaccine and your first booster, you’re eligible for a second booster at least four months after your first, regardless of age. If you received Pfizer or Moderna as your first booster and you’re over the age of 50, you are eligible for your second booster at least four months after that first booster. 

How do you set up a booster shot?

When you’re ready to schedule your booster shot, you can contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns, but you can schedule just as you did for your vaccine. I received both doses of my Moderna vaccine at my local pharmacy, so I received my booster shot at that same pharmacy as well. You can schedule your booster elsewhere if you’d like, depending on availability, but for peace of mind and ease, I used the same pharmacy for all three. You can schedule your appointment online with any local pharmacy. In the surrounding area, CVS, Walgreens, Meijer,  and Kroger all have doses available and easy online scheduling. Some pharmacies even have walk-in appointments available, depending on how many vaccines they have at a given moment. 

I imagine that as the months go on, more people will be eligible for their second booster shots. I also imagine that we’ll likely have to get our booster shot regularly, similar to how we get our flu shot regularly as well. Remember, just because you are vaccinated and boosted, that does not mean you will never get coronavirus, but it does drastically decrease the severity of the infection, as well as drastically decreases the chance of hospitalization or death. If we want to keep seeing mask mandates lifting and people safely gathering, we need to protect ourselves and our neighbors by receiving the vaccine and available booster doses. 

If you have any questions or concerns or are even unsure if you want to get your booster, call your doctor. If you have received your booster and know anyone who is wary, talk to them about your experience, and encourage them to protect their health and the health of those around them. 

Additional information can be found on the CDC website. 

The coronavirus vaccine has arrived and I am REJOICING! It finally feels like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and we can begin to navigate the next phase of this pandemic. Since the vaccine is newly released, it will of course take some time until the general public has access to it. The newness also raises a lot of questions about side effects and long term effects as well. I’ve seen a lot of people questioning how, if at all, the COVID vaccine affects fertility in women. In short, despite the rumors, there is no effect on fertility due to the vaccine. 

The Vaccine and Pregnancy

No pregnant women were administered the vaccine during clinical trials, but that is not specific to the COVID vaccine. Pregnant women aren’t typically included in clinical trials for any vaccine. There are plans to have trials specifically for pregnant women, but in all of the trials thus far, people who were vaccinated were also able to conceive a baby after receiving the vaccination. 

Possible Vaccine Side Effects

As with any vaccination, there are possible side effects. Some people might feel sick for a day or so after their vaccination and might have symptoms such as headache, nausea, or a slight fever. The only possible risk around pregnancy would be if a pregnant person got a fever as a result of the vaccine, but that only happens in 10-15% of people who are vaccinated anyway, and it is likely the fever would be so mild it wouldn’t affect the pregnancy. Any claims that the vaccine would negatively affect people who are breastfeeding is also inaccurate, and there is absolutely no evidence that it impacts someone’s ability to get pregnant. 

Myths around the Vaccine and Fertility

Apparently, the myth around the vaccine and fertility began because a German doctor named Wolfgang Wodarg speculated that perhaps the vaccine might lead to infertility. He noted that there is a protein in the vaccine similar to a protein found in the human placenta. He wondered if the body would attack the placenta incorrectly, leading to fertility issues. This was proven to be false because the amounts of similarities in these proteins is incredibly minute. 

At this point, enough people from the clinical trials have gone on to become pregnant with no complications, further proving that it has no impact on fertility.

For more detailed explanations, check out this article by the University of Chicago school of medicine about how the vaccine does not affect pregnancy, fertility, or breastfeeding. Also, check out this article from WebMD about the details behind the misinformation.

When can you get the vaccine?

It’s incredibly exciting that the vaccine is becoming available. In the state of Indiana, people 70 years old and older are now eligible to be vaccinated. As the vaccine becomes more widely available, I hope you get vaccinated. It’s important to ask questions and do research to debunk myths around the vaccine so you can feel safe receiving it. It truly is incredible that the vaccine was developed within the same year the pandemic began. A little glimmer of hope for the new year. Stay safe, wear a mask and get vaccinated when you can! And then make a baby if you want since it won’t affect your fertility.