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Boosters vs. third dose: How are these COVID-19 shots different?

By AYIE LICSI Published Nov 23, 2021 8:10 pm

This November, medical frontliners, senior citizens, and immunocompromised persons can start getting additional COVID-19 shots—a booster or a third dose. Now eligible individuals have this question in mind: which additional shot should they get and how are they different?

The World Health Organization (WHO) gave three reasons for people to get additional shots: (1) if you didn't respond adequately to your first two doses, (2) if over time, the immunity you received from being vaccinated starts to wane, (3) and if the performance of the vaccines is less against some of the variants of concerns that emerged.

What is a booster shot?

A booster shot is given to a fully vaccinated individual. Its purpose, according to John Hopkins Medicine, is to help maintain the level of immunity for longer. These shots are meant to provide additional protection for those who live or work in high-risk settings and individuals whose immunity from the vaccine started to go down over time.

From the Department of Health's (DOH) guidelines, medical frontliners and senior citizens are recommended to get booster shots at least six months after their primary series.

The government allowed these persons to choose between getting the same brand vaccine or a different one. But as DOH officials noted on Nov. 17, it might be better to get the same brand as they have more consistent studies when it comes to safety.

What's a third dose?

Meanwhile, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says the third dose is intended to improve immunocompromised people's response to the initial vaccine series. The DOH recommends it for those with the following conditions:

  • Immunodeficiency state
  • People living with HIV
  • Active cancer or malignancy
  • Transplant patients
  • Patients under immunosuppressive treatments

A third dose, according to DOH Technical Advisory Group's Dr. Edsel Salvana, can be given as early as 28 days apart from the second dose. He added that an attending physician will certify whether a heterologous or homologous third dose is needed.

"Immunocompromised may have specific conditions which warrant specific booster types and proper timing of boosting," Salvana wrote on Facebook.

I got my two doses already. Am I still fully vaxxed?

The health expert also told PhilStar L!fe that these additional shots are voluntary and that people who have already completed their primary series are still considered fully vaccinated.

"Voluntary ang booster. It may change for certain populations like immunocompromised once we get better data, but for now those who got two doses (or one Janssen) are considered fully vaxxed whether or they have booster or not," Salvana said.