Are you still protecting yourself against COVID-19? Scientific evidence shows that the COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses are effective in protecting people. They protect people both from infection and, above all, from the serious consequences of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends a second COVID-19 refresher for people in certain groups and a first refresher for children ages 5 to 11.
“Starting immediately, a second booster dose is recommended for people who are at higher risk of severe consequences from COVID-19,” said Dr. Jay Montgomery, medical director of the Immunization Healthcare Division of the North Atlantic Region Vaccine Safety Hub. “We know that protection from previous doses wears off somewhat over time, and for some, a second booster dose may help increase protection. TRICARE beneficiaries are encouraged to stay current with their COVID-19 vaccines, which includes booster shots for many people.”
Who is entitled to the second booster?
This depends on your age, your medical condition, the vaccine you received for the first time and when you received your first vaccination. According to the CDC, an additional refresher is available for certain individuals who received their first refresher at least four months ago.
At the moment, the terms and conditions for the second booster are as follows:
- Adults 50+ can receive either a Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna refresher.
- Children ages 12 to 17 who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may receive a Pfizer BioNTech booster.
- Individuals 18 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may receive either a Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna booster.
- Individuals 18 years and older who have received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine (a priming dose and a booster dose) may receive either a Pfizer-BioNTech or a Moderna booster dose.
What about children over 5 years old?
The CDC now recommends that children ages 5 to 11 should receive a booster shot five months after their first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine series.
Why should you get the booster?
If you haven’t received your first booster shot yet, you should get it. Data continues to show that staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines and boosters is the best way to protect yourself against serious illness from COVID-19. During the Omicron surge, the CDC reported that those who received the first booster shot were 21 times less likely to die from COVID-19 than those who were unvaccinated. They were also 7 times less likely to be hospitalized.
A study by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Department also reported that active duty members who received the booster during the Omicron variant winter surge were much less likely to contract COVID-19 or show symptoms of the disease.
Where do you get the booster?
You can get the booster vaccination from:
Like the COVID-19 vaccine, additional booster shots are free for everyone. If you are not on active duty, you may incur an office visit fee if you visit a civilian provider. You may also incur costs if you require aftercare.
What if you test positive for COVID-19?
The government established a test-to-treat program for people who tested positive for the virus in March. Two oral COVID-19 drugs that effectively treat COVID-19 symptoms are now available. To get these drugs, you can go through the following:
- your doctor
- military pharmacies
- retail pharmacies
- Some health clinics
The oral antiviral drugs are paxlovid and molnupiravir. They have proven to be highly effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization. They are an important new way to combat the effects of COVID-19. If you have COVID-19 symptoms and have tested positive, don’t wait to get treatment. You must start the medication within five days of your first COVID-19 symptoms. To find a test-to-treat location near you, visit the locator page.
Stay up to date with the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots from CDC and TRICARE. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your vaccination questions. Your provider can help you review all your options and guide you in choosing your COVID-19 refresher.
At the time of publication, this information is current. Visit www.cdc.gov or TRICARE COVID Guide for the latest COVID-19 information.
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