Omicron Covid booster seems to work regardless of side effects

If you already have the omicron-specific Covid booster, you may have experienced some side effects. Maybe even something more intense than your previous shot.

But don’t worry. According to experts and new data, the new shots seem to work regardless of whether side effects are moderate, mild, or non-existent.

Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a professor of pediatric infectious diseases, said, “Don’t focus too much on the side effects, because I really think the main objective here is to protect people. That advantage of the new vaccine. “Please pay attention to,” said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Stanford University School of Medicine, telling CNBC Make It.

The new booster received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and the CDC before clinical trials were completed. But newly released data from ongoing clinical trials from Pfizer and BioNTech offer the first glimpse of how well the new shot works in humans, with the new booster showing up in Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 variants. It shows that it generated a strong immune response against

About 11.5 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves to get boosters since the boosters were first distributed in early September, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Sept. 30, about a third of adults in the United States have already acquired one or plan to do so “as soon as possible.”

Here’s what you need to know about the protection the new booster offers, and where the side effects fit the equation.

New boosters seem to protect you

Redesigned shots from Pfizer and Moderna are bivalent. So the original he is adjusted for Covid strain and Omicron BA.4 and BA.5. All Americans age 5 and older are eligible to receive one dose if they have completed the primary vaccination series.

Like previous Covid vaccines, the new boosters are designed to help fight the virus by triggering an immune response in the body. Because it mimics an infection, the immune system recognizes it as foreign, says Maldonado.

Your immune system responds by creating an arsenal of antibodies, memory B-cells, and T-cells that work together to hunt down the “foreign body” and remember how to fend off it in the future.

Pfizer says its clinical trial successfully elicited that immune response.A week after the injection, participants had higher levels of antibodies to BA.4 and BA.5 in their blood than before the injection. The drug company did not specify how high those antibody numbers were, but said it planned to release data “in the next few weeks” measuring antibody levels one month after the booster. Stated.

Such data may better measure the full protection that Pfizer’s new booster can provide against omicron variants. Covid vaccines usually take two to three weeks to fully boost immunity.

“We know the data is not perfect, but it is also encouraging to see an increase in antibodies already after seven days,” Maldanado said. “The response is very consistent with what we’ve seen with other vaccines in the past.”

What does it mean if your side effects are more intense than others?

Side effects — in this case a familiar set of muscle aches, fatigue and headaches — are a natural part of our immune response to vaccines, says Maldonado. A clinical trial of a version of the bivalent booster found that most participants experienced “mild” side effects, with a much smaller proportion reporting “moderate” or “severe” side effects.

In the real world, severity seems to be “like a mixed bag,” says Maldonado: Some people report worse, similar, or worse than previous vaccinations. “There’s some risk of side effects. For most people, you’ll feel something, but that doesn’t mean the vaccine isn’t safe or won’t protect you,” she says. added.

Dr. Peter Chinhong, professor of infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco, says he certainly felt some “harmful side effects” after receiving the latest booster. The side effects from both vaccinations are not new, but suggest that they may have “fused together” to create a more intense experience.

Some studies have shown that the chance of side effects after receiving both vaccines at the same time is the same, or only slightly higher, than with the Covid vaccine alone. Therefore, there is no specific explanation for when side effects from new boosters are more or less severe than other boosters.

But don’t worry, emphasizes Dr. Helen Chu, assistant professor of infectious diseases at the University of Washington. Having mild or moderate side effects does not mean that you have a stronger immune response than someone without side effects.

“You’ll still have a good rise in antibody levels. Either way, you’re still very protected,” Chu says.

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