The new bivalent booster is now available, and many people are signing up for the shot. The current vaccine targets the original COVID-19 strain as well as the newer, dominant omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. This way you are doubly protected against severe illness.
According to Parade, getting the newer version of the COVID-19 vaccine may also help guard against upcoming variants of the virus. Since the immune system now recognizes two similar variants, it is better prepared to be on the lookout for future mutations.
The side effects of the bivalent vaccine are similar to other jabs. They vary by age, with younger people having a stronger response because of their robust immune systems and older individuals experiencing fewer side effects from the mRNA vaccines.
“All the side effects from a bivalent booster were very similar to what we saw with a regular booster, and even going back to the initial vaccination,” said Andrew Pekosz, a virologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, according to AARP.
Moderna booster side effects. Most people vaccinated with the Moderna’s bivalent booster experienced pain at the injection site. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that 80% of trial participants reported this reaction, followed by fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills nausea and fever.
Pfizer booster side effects. The most common side effect reported ─ about 60% of recipients ─ was pain at the injection site after receiving this shot, says AARP. Other side effects included fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, diarrhea, fever and vomiting.
No adverse events were noted from either booster, though experts say they will stay vigilant for any signs of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) that has occurred mainly in teens and young adults after getting their vaccine.
Currently, Pfizer and Moderna are the only vaccine makers in the U.S. to offer the bivalent booster. Pfizer’s booster is authorized for those 12 years and older. Adults 18 years and older can get the Moderna booster.
Johnson & Johnson’s booster has not been updated to tackle the omicron variant. The CDC recommends the Pfizer and Moderna versions over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of a rare but serious complication involving a blood disorder, says AARP.
To alleviate the side effects, drink plenty of water before and after getting the booster, say experts. Try to rest the next day and take an over-the-counter pain reliever to ease any discomfort following the booster. Side effects are normally short-lived, but if they linger, check with your healthcare professional.
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