The message could not be clearer ahead of winter: if you’re eligible for the booster Covid vaccine and haven’t got one yet, take up the opportunity as soon as possible. To counter waning immunity from the vaccines, the booster shots have been shown to supercharge protection levels. As new daily cases of coronavirus spiral and hospitalisation rates increase, getting the booster shot is mission critical. Like the previous vaccines, they carry certain risks, although the risk of serious problems following vaccination is vanishingly small.
Nonetheless, “there have also been recent, very rare cases of inflammation of the heart called myocarditis or pericarditis reported after Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines,” reports the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the nation’s new public health body focused on health protection and security.
“These cases have been seen mostly in younger men within several days after vaccination. Most of these people recovered and felt better following rest and simple treatments,” explains the UKHSA.
You should seek medical advice urgently if, after vaccination, you experience “feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart”, advises the health body.
Other urgent signs include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath.
It is important to reiterate that the risks posed by the vaccines are infinitesimal when compared to the benefits of getting vaccinated.
First results from the randomised, controlled COVID-19 vaccine booster trial demonstrated a relative vaccine efficacy of 95.6 percent against the Delta variant.
In the trial with more than 10,000 participants 16 years of age and older, COVID-19 booster was also found to have a “favourable safety profile”.
To arrive at this verdict a booster dose administered to individuals who previously received the Pfizer vaccine two-dose series “restored vaccine protection” against COVID-19 to the high levels achieved after the second dose, showing a relative vaccine efficacy of 95.6 percent when compared to those who did not receive a booster.
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These were the first efficacy results from any randomised, controlled COVID-19 vaccine booster trial.
“These results provide further evidence of the benefits of boosters as we aim to keep people well-protected against this disease,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer.
“In addition to our efforts to increase global access and uptake among the unvaccinated, we believe boosters have a critical role to play in addressing the ongoing public health threat of this pandemic. We look forward to sharing these data with health authorities and working together to determine how they can be used to support the rollout of booster doses around the world.”
“These important data add to the body of evidence suggesting that a booster dose of our vaccine can help protect a broad population of people from this virus and its variants,” added Ugur Sahin, M.D., CEO and Co-Founder of BioNTech.
People who are pregnant and in one of the eligible groups can also get a booster dose.
Most people who can get a COVID-19 booster vaccine are also eligible for the annual flu vaccine.
Most people will be invited to book an appointment at a larger vaccination centre, pharmacy, or local NHS service such as a GP surgery.
If you are offered both vaccines, it’s safe to have them at the same time.