The Time Is Now For A COVID Booster

Experts urge for covid boosters and flu shots to battle pending 'tripledemic'

November 01, 2022
Nurse holds "I got my covid booster" sticker

A symposium hosted Oct. 27, 2022 by New York Medical College (NYMC), a member of the Touro University system, featured a panel of experts, including Touro University California (TUC) College of Osteopathic Medicine Dean Dr. Tami Hendriksz.

The panelists discussed the reasoning behind getting the CDC-recommended bivalent booster for COVID-19. The experts also talked about the efficacy and duration of the booster, suggesting the coming weeks are best to stay protected in time for the upcoming holidays.

Dr. Hendriksz explained that vaccination and boosters are a more effective means of protection than simply building natural immunity after coming down with COVID.

“People are getting COVID-19 multiple times,” Dr. Hendriksz said. “These boosters provide stronger and longer protection than just naturally recovering from the virus.”

Initial vaccinations or boosters should be received at appropriate intervals, but Dr. Hendriksz said within that framework, people should allow at least two weeks for the build up of antibodies before taking part in large family gatherings, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s or other holiday gatherings.  

Dr. Marisa Montecalvo, professor of medicine at  NYMC and infectious diseases expert, said that vaccines can work in two ways. “First, they protect the individual … a secondary purpose is to reduce transmission, so it helps protect those who aren’t vaccinated, as well.”

Fellow NYMC infectious diseases expert and microbiologist Dr. Chandra Shekar Bakshi said the new bivalent vaccines contain two different components, which are meant to help make the doses more robust.

“It’s designed to combat multiple variants of COVID-19,” Dr. Bakshi said. One component combats the original COVID-19 strain and the second is meant to battle numerous variants of COVID.

It is still early in the process of determining overall efficacy, but Dr. Ted Barrett, with Lovelace Biomedical Research Institute, noted that early clinical data has shown very promising results.

“It’s doing what we want it to … it’s creating high levels of antibodies,” Dr. Barrett said. He also stated that bi-annual or annual boosters, similar to yearly flu shots, could become the norm, but there are several developments that could ease the effect of what he called, “booster fatigue.”

One was the development of boosters that could be taken nasally, rather than with a shot. The other was the development of a “pan” vaccine that would target the entire SARS virus family tree, including COVID, the flu, SARS, and others.