ASK MISS RONA: Updated COVID-19 boosters

Ask Miss Rona is a Q&A series started on Public Health’s Instagram to respond to community questions related to different topic areas of COVID-19. Questions come in from the public and are answered by subject matter experts at Public Health. Check out our Instagram at @kcpubhealth for more of our Miss Rona content. This blog is also available in Spanish-Espanol.

How long should you wait between boosters?

You will need to wait at least 2 months from your last booster to get the new updated booster.

How long will the protection last? When will I need my next booster?

We don’t know exactly how long the protection will last. Scientists are monitoring for that now. But even without know how long it will last, we expect the updated boosters will offer protection from serious illness, hospitalization and death. Importantly, the updated boosters are specially tailored to protect against Omicron variants that are circulating now.

CDC is likely to offer a yearly fall COVID booster tailored to expected variants, much like the yearly flu shot.

Where can we get free COVID boosters in South King County? Any upcoming vaccine clinics?

Public Health’s vaccination clinic at the Auburn Outlet Mall has plenty of updated COVID boosters for everyone age 5+. Drop-ins are welcome, or make an appointment. Open Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon, 10:30 am to 7:15 pm.

More locations in many south King County cities and pop-up events on kingcounty.gov/vaccine. Also ask your local pharmacy. COVID boosters and vaccinations are free at all locations.

Can you get a Monkeypox vax (1st or 2nd dose) and a COVID vaccine at the same time?  

People, particularly adolescent or adult males under age 30, may consider waiting 4 weeks after monkey pox vaccination due to potential risk of myocarditis and pericarditis. However, if someone got a COVID vaccine and needs a monkey pox vaccine due to exposure or other risk, they shouldn’t wait.

You can get flu or other vaccines at the same time as a COVID vaccine.

What if you test positive right after getting the updated booster? Is it still effective?  

The vaccine should still be effective. However, if you get an infection remember to isolate from others, wear a mask, and consult with your health care provider. You may be eligible for treatment for COVID.

How many people were the updated boosters tested on?

Updated boosters were tested in over 2000 participants and have been given to nearly 20 million people so far. The updated boosters use the same basic COVID-19 vaccine formula as the prior COVID-19 vaccines, with a small change in the protein to target the Omicron variants (like how the basic flu shot gets an update each flu season). So far, over 600 million doses of COVID-19 have been given in the U.S. They continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.

Is “Hooking Up” completely safe now if we’ve completed the primary doses, had a 1st booster, and an updated booster?

There is still a chance you can get infected so we can’t say it is “completely” safe. If you get COVID and you have the updated booster your chances of having a serious infection, hospitalization or dying are greatly reduced. Your chances of having long COVID are also lower. You should still consider precautions in crowded venues, especially with the change in weather where indoor gatherings are more common and air ventilation is not as good.

Where are updated boosters available for children ages 5-11?

Updated boosters for kids ages 5-11 are available FREE now at our Auburn Outlet Mall vaccine clinic. Drop-ins and appointments welcome! For more info and a list of other local COVID vaccine providers and pharmacies, go to: kingcounty.gov/vaccine.  

Why would they recommend this for healthy adults who are low-risk from COVID?

The virus is very unpredictable, and some variants are more severe. Not getting vaccinated puts you at much higher risk of severe COVID-19, which can make you seriously sick for a long period of time (long COVID) and possibly cause lasting damage—even if you’re young and healthy. We still don’t know why COVID causes such severe disease in some people, so it’s impossible to predict whether you’ll have a mild or serious case if you are exposed.   

If I had COVID I should wait to get an updated booster, right?

If you had a recent infection with COVID you can wait 2 months before getting your booster. You can also choose to get your booster now if it’s been 2 months since your last booster dose, you no longer need to be in isolation, and do not have COVID symptoms. For more information, go to: kingcounty.gov/vaccine. 

If someone didn’t get the last booster(s) do they need to need to get them before the new one?

Yes, we recommend everyone to get the updated booster so they have the best protection, especially against the Omicron strains which earlier vaccines are not as good at protecting against.  If it has been more than 6 months since your primary series you are also at increased risk of having less protection due to waning immunity. 

How long after does it take for the updated booster to become effective? 

Full protection starts about 2 weeks after you receive your booster. It’s a good idea to get it now, so you are better protected as we approach colder weather that bring everyone indoors and for winter travel, as well as approaching holidays.

What about pregnant people and updated boosters?

If they get COVID, pregnant people are more likely to need hospitalization and ICU care. This is also true for premature and infant children. There are no increased risks or adverse outcomes in pregnant people who have received COVID-19 vaccines. That’s why we strongly urge anyone who is pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant to get the updated booster.

Thanks for your questions! More information about children and COVID vaccine: kingcounty.gov/vaccine/youth.

Originally published November 3, 2022