Booster Dose: Why is a booster dose of vaccine required?

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Dr. Preeti Sharma

Booster Dose: Why is a booster dose of vaccine required?

In this video our expert Pulmonologist Dr. Preeti Sharma is talking about Booster Dose and Why is a booster dose of vaccine required?, also she answered some very common questions that people usually ask like:

  • What is the role of booster doses?
  • How do vaccines give immunity to us?
  • Who can have booster shots?

About 60 % of the Indian population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but few are left who are not aware of it. 

How do vaccines provide Immunity?

Vaccines provide immunity in two ways: once we get vaccinated, the body acts as a host hence an immune response in the form of antibodies is generated. This is called humoral immunity. Second way the immune response is generated is by activation of memory T-cells or B-cells which come under cell-mediated immunity. So after vaccination, the body will recognize the virus and will generate an immune response in the form of antibodies or via cell-mediated immunity. 

The body takes time to generate immunity. It’s not like that today we got vaccinated and tomorrow only we will have immunity. It takes a span of time to generate antibodies and activation of memory cells.  Accordingly, the government has set vaccine schedules for the vaccination programs.

For example, If we get vaccinated by covaxin, the second dose will be done after 8- 12 weeks. Only then, this schedule of vaccination is completed. If one says I am vaccinated with the first dose and won’t go for a second. 

The doctor says this will give the body zero protection against viruses. Immunity is generated after the application of the second dose of vaccine. Furthermore, it may take 2-3 weeks to confer proper protection against viruses.  It is important to complete the dosing schedule of vaccines so that the body has full protection against viruses. 

Even if we are fully vaccinated we got the protection because one is not suffering from any severe disease. Omicron variants mutate very frequently due to the presence of spike protein, against which vaccine is generated. So even a fully vaccinated person can have an omikron-mediated infection. But the important thing is, that person will have a mild infection as compared to a non-vaccinated person. Vaccination will prevent us from severe disease, reduce hospitalisation, and definitively control death rates.

After some time of vaccination, the immunity starts getting reduced after 6- 8 months maximum of 9 months. The memory cells will be unable to recognize the virus spike protein and may not be able to generate a specific cellular immune response. So for that, we need a booster shot because we need to remind the host immunity to fight against the virus. 

Who can have booster shots? And why is a booster dose of vaccine required?

The doctor says a booster dose can be given to high-risk groups first. It includes elderly people (more than 60yrs of age), patients suffering from severe diseases like chronic kidney disease, diabetes, lung diseases, and hypertension. Since their immunity has worn out very fast. This category of people is advised to take booster dose first. Also, the healthcare professionals who are exposed to the virus on a daily routine should be given booster doses. 

The doctor says it is very important to complete the schedule of vaccination. People say we don’t want to get vaccinated, COVID is nothing but this notion is wrong. In addition, vaccination protects us from spreading the disease. Since we are vaccinated we won’t spread droplets of infection as compared to unvaccinated. To protect ourselves and as well as community, vaccination is a must. Also, there is no mix and match of vaccines. As the doctor says according to ICMR if the person is fully vaccinated with covaxin he/ she will have a booster shot of the same. 

Similar is with the covishield vaccine. No such mix match of vaccines has been reported up till now. In the end, the doctor says to get vaccinated, do follow the schedule of vaccination, and COVID appropriate behavior like wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and avoiding gatherings and crowds. As we have already seen even after maintaining the social distance and being vaccinated we can have a mild infection.

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