A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Should I get the updated COVID-19 vaccine?

graphic of the updated COVID-19 vaccineAs new COVID-19 variants emerge and cases of infection start to increase, people often ask if they should get the updated COVID-19 vaccine.

“I get asked this question almost every day,” said Dr. Thomas Boyce, pediatric infectious disease doctor and researcher with Marshfield Children’s. “Typically the answer is yes, you should get the updated COVID vaccine.”

While everyone should receive the updated COVID-19 vaccine, some people may need additional doses for best protection. You should talk to your doctor for COVID-19 vaccine recommendations based on your health history, or you can check out the current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention below.

RELATED RESOURCE: Current COVID-19 vaccine recommendations from the CDC

Updated COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness

Research continues to show that COVID-19 vaccines continue to protect people from severe illness, hospitalization and death due to COVID-19, even as new variants emerge. However, research also shows the protection the vaccines provide wane as time progresses since the last vaccine.

Most current circulating COVID-19 variants can cause you to get sick even if you received the initial COVID-19 vaccine series. The variants can get around the immune response triggered by the initial COVID-19 vaccine series. Updated vaccines can increase the neutralizing antibodies needed to protect you from these new variants.

People who are immunocompromised

The elderly and people who are immunocompromised are more likely to be hospitalized with severe COVID-19. For this reason, Dr. Boyce said it is very important these individuals stay up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines.

“People who are immunocompromised may require more than one dose of the current updated COVID-19 vaccine, depending on how many COVID-19 vaccine doses they have received in the past,” said Dr. Boyce.

Immunocompromised individuals include the following categories:

  • Currently receiving cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood.
  • History of a solid organ transplant and taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
  • History of a stem cell transplant within the last two years or taking medicine to suppress the immune system after a stem cell transplant.
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency affecting the cellular immune system.
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection.
  • Current treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress the immune system.

“For some immunosuppressed patients, their immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine may be reduced. However, it will likely offer them some protection. In addition, their family members should all be vaccinated to protect the high-risk person from becoming infected,” said Dr. Boyce.

You should talk to your primary or specialty care provider about your medical condition, any questions you have and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for your health.

For questions about the updated COVID-19 vaccine, talk to a Marshfield Clinic Health System provider.

Schedule appointment Message your provider

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