VDH explains difference between additional COVID-19 vaccine dose and booster dose; timing for flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines


(WFXR) — What’s the difference between an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose and a booster dose? Can you get the flu shot if you have symptoms of the coronavirus? The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) provides answers to these and other vaccine questions.

According to the VDH, an additional dose — or third dose — of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, is now recommended for people with a weak immune system because their initial immune response after a two-dose series may not have been strong enough to protect them.

This additional dose for immunocompromised people is NOT considered to be a traditional vaccine booster dose. Rather, this third dose is considered a necessary part of the primary series for those with significant immune compromise.

The VDH’s update from Tuesday, Aug. 31 says that people with a moderately or severely weakened immune system who received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine are now eligible to get a third dose of the vaccine.

On the other hand, health officials say a booster dose of a vaccine is recommended when a person’s initial immune response is likely to have decreased over time.

People age 18 or older who received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine are encouraged to plan on receiving a booster dose at least eight months after they received their second vaccine dose, the VDH says.

According to the department, the administration of booster doses is expected to start in late September, but the FDA and CDC will be reviewing the data and making the final recommendations on who is eligible to get a booster dose –including children — in the coming weeks. 

If you plan on getting a coronavirus vaccine in the next few weeks, you can time that around when you get a flu shot. After all, getting a flu vaccine before flu season — which often starts in October and ends in February or March — is important so you don’t catch the flu at a time when doctors’ offices and hospitals are crowded with coronavirus patients.

Health officials say that COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may now be administered without regard to timing, which means you can get the COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines on the same day.

However, if you have symptoms of the coronavirus, you are urged to get tested as soon as possible and to wait 14 days from the time your symptoms end before getting a flu shot.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccines — including who should get an additional dose or a booster dose — follow this link to check out the VDH’s list of FAQ’s.

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