Health & Fit Pregnant People Can (and Should) Get a COVID-19 Booster Shot—Here's Why, According to Experts
Should You Mix COVID-19 Vaccines? Here's What Experts Are Saying
Some research says yes — but it's not that simple.The answer, as you can imagine, is a little complicated. Here's what you need to know about mixing COVID-19 vaccines.
On October 21, the(CDC) expanded their recommendations on who, as of right now, can get a t. The guidance splits up people at the most basic level, splits up people in to two groups: Those who who initially received a two-dose mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech) and those who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J) vaccine. From there, the guidance breaks down like this, per the CDC:
People who received a two-dose mRNA vaccine may receive a booster shot if they are:
COVID Booster Shots: What Are They and Who Is Eligible to Get Them?
This reported op-ed documents the experience of getting a COVID booster shot.In my reporting, I’ve talked to COVID long-haulers who have debilitating brain fog or extreme exhaustion. A few weeks ago, in a panic, I texted one of my best friends who is also chronically ill. Was she as worried about catching the Delta variant as I was? How could we put additional symptoms on our already long lists? “I cannot handle any more brain fog on top of the brain fog I have,” I said. “Yeah,” she agreed. “I don’t know, realistically, if I can take another bout of being sick from something new.
- Age 65 or older
- Age 18 or older, and live in a long-term care setting
- Age 18 or older and have an underlying medical condition
- Age 18 or older and work/live in a high-risk setting
People who received a single-dose J&J vaccine may receive a booster shot if they are:
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- Age 18 or older, and received their J&J vaccine two or more months ago
Even with these recommendations, there is still some confusion regarding certain populations—and how they fall into these categories. Namely, pregnant people are wondering: Can (and should) they get a COVID-19 booster, too?
Fortunately, the answer is pretty clear: Pregnancy is technically considered an underlying medical condition when it comes to COVID-19,. The reasoning: "Pregnant and recently pregnant people (for at least 42 days following the end of pregnancy) are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19, compared with non-pregnant people," the CDC says.
Should I Get a COVID-19 Booster Before I Travel?
Infectious disease experts weigh in on who should get a vaccine booster and whether the extra shot is a good idea for travel and family gatherings.But my parents were determined to go. They aren’t getting any younger, for one, and they have properties that needed their attention, and friends and family they hadn’t seen in years. So, we started scrambling for information.
And the CDC isn't the only reputable health agency that gives pregnant people the OK to get a booster shot. Both the(ACOG) and (SMFM)—the two major agencies that oversee medical providers who care for pregnant people in the US—urge pregnant people to get a booster shot if it's been at least six months since they completed the COVID-19 vaccination series.
"ACOG recommends that pregnant and recently pregnant people up to 6 weeks postpartum, including pregnant and recently pregnant health care workers, receive a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine following the completion of their initial COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine series," according to the agency's page on. The agency goes on to specify that their recommendations fall in line with the CDC's recommendations: For those who initially received a J&J vaccine to get a booster dose at least two months after their initial dose, and for those who received an mRNA vaccine to get a booster dose six months following completion of their initial series.
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Echoing ACOG, thethat pregnant people, including health care workers, get a Pfizer booster dose at least six months after their primary Pfizer series, at any stage during pregnancy or postpartum. (Note: This statement was issued before the FDA authorized booster shots for the Moderna and J&J vaccines, and has not yet been updated.) In their statement, the SMFM also added that pregnancy is "independently associated with a three-fold increased risk for ICU admission, a 2.4-fold increased risk for needing ECMO [a machine that allows a severely ill patient's heart and lungs to rest], and a 1.7-fold increased risk of death due to COVID-19, compared with symptomatic non-pregnant patients."
It's not just the agencies either. All of the health care providers we spoke to for this story, both ob-gyns and infectious disease experts, recommend pregnant or recently postpartum people get their COVID-19 vaccine and a booster dose.
Which COVID-19 Booster Shot Should You Get? Here's What We Know So Far, to Help You Make a Decision
All of the booster shots work, according to experts—but this additional information might help with your decision making. As of right now, booster shots are only approved for specific people (those who are 65 or older, or those over the age of 18 who work or live in high-risk or long-term care facilities, or have underlying conditions). But an impending approval for all adults—paired with the FDA's recent approval of mixing-and-matching COVID-19 vaccines and boosters—has most people wondering (and planning) which booster shot they should get, based on their original COVID-19 vaccine.
"I tell my patients that the COVID-19 vaccine, whether it's the first series or booster, is completely safe and recommended during pregnancy,", MD, an ob/gyn at Northwestern Medicine, tells Health. , MD, PhD, a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital, also tells Health that her practice is "recommending the booster in pregnancy, just like we do for any high-risk group."
Dr. Aagaard notes that expectant moms should consider the benefits, not only for themselves, but for their babies, as well. "One of the things we do as pregnant moms is prepare babies to live in the outside world—and that has COVID in it," she says. "Getting vaccinated is important but the duration of those antibodies is a little unknown and we know, in general, that the mRNA vaccines have wavering antibodies. That's the reason we're giving boosters."
According to infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, a senior at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, pregnant people should think of themselves as "higher risk than the average person for complications from COVID." He, too, advises them to get the booster.
, MD, an ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando, Florida, urges pregnant people to consider all the risks, benefits, and alternatives in any medical situation—and that includes the decision to get a booster shot. In her opinion, that decision-making process offers up an answer that clearly points to getting the vaccine as well. "We're not seeing a whole lot of risks from the vaccine, but we do see a lot from getting COVID-19 and dying," Dr. Greves tells Health. "It just makes sense to get a booster during pregnancy given that there is data to support that immunity goes down after six months"—which, again, is the entire reason behind booster doses to begin with.
F.D.A. Authorizes Coronavirus Booster Shots for All Adults
WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized booster shots of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for everyone 18 and older, opening up eligibility to tens of millions more fully vaccinated adults. The move simplifies eligibility, fulfills a pledge by President Biden to offer the shots to every American adult and formally allows a practice already in place in at least 10 states. Fearful that waning protection and the onset of winter will set off a wave of breakthrough infections, a growing number of governors had already offered boosters to everyone 18 and older ahead of the holidays.
That waning immunity is why, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, also recommends COVID-19 booster doses for pregnant people. "The bottom line is that, physiologically, your antibody response will wane," he tells Health. "Since most people got their vaccine in March and April of last year, we're not beyond that point that shows there is typically waning immunity. This it the time to get it." That's especially true, he says, due to the Delta variant, which is still present in the US.
The bottom line: If you are pregnant, you can rest assured that the overwhelming advice from health agencies and physicians alike is to get the COVID-19 booster (or, to urgently get an initial COVID-19 vaccine if you haven't done so already).
If you have any lingering nerves—maybe you experiences some rough side effects after your first series, or you've heard others have had side effects from their booster—remember that it's OK to (and even recommended) to take it easy. Dr. Aagaard recommends having Tylenol handy (it's considered safe during pregnancy) in case you develop a fever, and to drink plenty of fluids. "If you didn't feel well with that second dose in your first series, I would absolutely recommend taking it easy after your booster and maybe taking that day off if you can, just to be safe," Dr. Simon says. But, she points out, "A lot of people who get their booster don't have a reaction, even if they had a reaction during their initial series."
And, as always, talk to your ob-gyn about your decision, along with any hesitations. They should be able to answer any specific concerns you have and offer up personalized advice.
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Should you mix and match your COVID-19 booster? Experts weigh in .
What to know before you mix and match.The next week, however, the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took the shot off the market briefly due to an emerging link between the vaccine and rare blood clots. And in the following months, breakthrough infections became increasingly common as the data began to show more clearly that the J&J vaccine is less effective at preventing COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations than the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA shots.