Have you been waiting to get a COVID booster shot or to get your child vaccinated? Dr. Mark Del Beccaro is a pediatrician and former emergency department doctor. He now works with COVID vaccination. We asked Dr. Mark for his advice about the best timing for COVID-19 vaccination.
It’s been in the news that the FDA has recommended booster shots in the fall that target the new Omicron variants. Should people wait until then to get a booster shot?
Dr. Mark: No, don’t delay getting a booster if you are eligible to get one. There’s so much COVID circulating now that you’d be likely to get infected while waiting. And we’re finding that even people who’ve had COVID this year are getting it again with the new super contagious Omicron variants, so that’s another reason to keep your protection up with a booster as soon as you can.
Expert advisors to the CDC are still weighing in on whether to offer another booster in the fall and if so, who should get it. If it is offered, people who are boosted now could still get it in the fall.
But vaccinated people have been getting COVID, so why should people keep up with their vaccinations?
Yes, the Omicron variants have been able to infect vaccinated people. But the vaccine still provides very strong protection against severe illness, the kind that lands people in the hospital or leaves them with long-lasting COVID symptoms, or in the worst cases, dying from COVID-19. I think it’s worth it to get vaccinated just so that even if I get sick, my symptoms won’t be as bad or last as long.
The first series of COVID vaccinations provide this protection, but it fades over time. That’s where the booster comes in—it helps the protection last longer and stay stronger.
Is it better to wait until closer to school starting to get my child vaccinated?
No, protect your child now since COVID is spreading. Kids generally don’t get as sick, but there can be severe cases, even in kids who are otherwise healthy, and they can get “long COVID” symptoms that last for months.
Older kids want to spend their summers doing activities like camp, sports and hanging out with their friends. Little children are often in day care or around other kids and they aren’t able to protect themselves from germs by keeping their masks on, covering their nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough and staying away from others. So, kids of all ages should stay up to date on COVID vaccinations, whether that’s a first vaccine children under 5 or a booster for kids 5 and older.
Where can I get a young child or baby vaccinated?
Public Health’s vaccination site at the Auburn Outlet Collection Mall Clinic is open Friday through Monday, from 10:30 am to 7:00 pm, and is vaccinating everyone 6 months and older free. Drop-ins are welcome. No appointment, health insurance, or proof of citizenship is needed.
We also have the Eastgate Public Health Center vaccination site in Bellevue vaccinating everyone 6 months and older free. Many local pediatricians, clinics, and some pharmacies are also vaccinating the youngest children. For more information and a list of vaccination sites near you, go to: kingcounty.gov/vaccine.
What’s the timing on getting boosters?
Everyone age 5 and older should get a booster shot to keep their protection strong:
- Five months after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna
- Two months after one dose of Johnson & Johnson (J&J)
If you’re immune compromised, you will need an additional dose and should get a first booster dose 3 months after the last dose in your initial series.
You should get a second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines 4 months after the first booster, if you are:
- Age 50 or older
- Age 12 or older and are moderately to severely immune compromised.
You can also get a second booster if you’re age 18 or older and received J&J for your initial shot or first booster.
For more information about vaccination locations and to schedule appointments: kingcounty.gov/vaccine or call 206-477-3977 (say your language if you need interpretation). You can also call that number if you have a disability and need accommodation, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published July 15, 2022.