How often are adults supposed to get Covid booster shots?

I am so confused about the covid vaccinations! I promise I am trying to do the right thing. I have the original two shots, plus a booster. So for the longest time I have thought I was good. I had heard of a 4th shot (2nd booster), but thought it was only for elderly or immunocompromised (I am neither luckily).

But, per the CDC website on boosters: The CDC recommends that people ages 5 years and older receive one updated (bivalent) booster if it has been at least 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose"

Hmm… let’s see if I need one:
• I am over 5 years old [Check].
• It has been more than two months [Check].
• you should get “one updated (bivalent) booster.” [hmmm… don’t know]

How do I know whether my booster was updated or not?? Will it say on my card? (mine just says Pfizer), but I am pretty sure it was the most “updated” booster that was available at the time. How would I know whether it was bi-valent or monovalent, or whether it has the correct “update”? Are there different versions of bi-valent?

Also, it says “one.” What happens if it turns out the one I already took was already bi-valent and I get another? Can you safely just get them whenever you want? Is there an advantage to taking boosters more frequently (I hear so many people bragging about how many boosters they’ve had.) Is the supply limited? If it works with Covid, Can I take multiple flu shots in a year too and be better off??

I think I need a booster, but do they know how long until I need another after that? Have they developed any consensus on recommended frequency going forward?

The page also says:

Updated (bivalent) boosters became available on:

  • September 2, 2022, for people 12 years of age and older
  • October 12, 2022, for people aged 5–11

Did you get your most recent booster before September? Then you didn’t get the updated one.

The bivalent booster was approved for use at the end of August; when did you get your booster?

The bivalent contains mRNA of the spike protein of both the original virus and the omicron variant lineages BA.4 and BA.5 (that makes it “bi” as opposed to the monovalent original vaccine and boosters).

Thank you. Yes, I need a booster. because mine was definitely before August 2022. Wonder why it can’t be stated that clearly on the CDC’s website.

Do they expect this to be an annual ritual like the flu shot? or is this the last one for a while, like a MMR??

I don’t think they truly know for sure, but as of a few months ago (when the bivalent booster was introduced), that was the publicly-announced expectation by the U.S.'s COVID response team.

Note the phrase which I bolded, however – it’s possible that some new strain, which evades the current vaccine-granted protection, and/or is particularly virulent, could warrant its own vaccine or booster.

Yep, I went into the doctor last Monday and he told me it was time for another booster and I broke out my cards where it showed I had one just last July.

I then asked him when I could start taking off my mask when I came to his office and he said how about right now and we both took ours off. He told me that the pandemic is over and that its not epidemic either, I can’t recall the word he (endemic?) but it means its pretty much just here without causing major issues. I asked about ventilators and he said he hasn’t heard of anyone being put on one in about 9 months. He also said that people need to start getting back to normal and picking up regular germs from each other in order to work our immune system response.

What an odd response from the doctor. Even if he recommended that you don’t wear a mask all the time, it still seems really prudent to wear one at a place where many of the people visiting are specifically there because they’re ill.

Anyway, at more that 400 deaths/day still, almost 150k per year, it’s still much more deadly than a normal flu. I imagine that, of those 400/day still dying, some are on a ventilator.

We put them back on when we left the room. His response was measured and only pertained to his local knowledge, he is not a CDC doctor. He didn’t say that no body was on a ventilator, just no one in the local area. And I didn’t press him for comparisons against other diseases like the flu.

It was a casual conversation between two people, nothing more.

The medical folks I talk to seem to like having everyone masked – I guess they would get sick more often, since they’re always exposed to sick people.

It’s always been a risk in the medical profession. Whether or not the general public should keep doing so is a matter of personal choice. I have no issue with folks wearing a mask, but if two people in private want to take them off then I’m cool with that too. I wouldn’t go walking through the hospital or clinic without one, that would just be rude to other people.

Ha! Yeah, that would be bad.

I think at this point, to be as fully vaccinated as you can realistically be, you should have had two doses of the initial vaccine (or one if you had J&J), a booster sometime last year, and another one recently of the bivalent kind.

As I understand it, and as @kenobi_65’s link says, an annual booster ought to do the trick. Part of that I’m sure is that it follows a seasonal pattern - get your booster in September and you’ll be good through the fall/winter, and then when it starts wearing off in the spring, you’re in the low transmission part of the year anyway. The other part is that I’m sure they’re eventually going to start tailoring them to the prevalent strains of COVID, just like they already do for influenza, and they’ll probably want to see what’s going on in the southern hemisphere in the summer before making their decisions for the fall.

Thanks, all, for the helpful responses. I have my bi-valent booster scheduled for the new year.

Update on “natural immunity” following Covid-19 infection: a study involving 15 million people finds that vaccination has a marked benefit for people who’ve already been sick with Covid-19, halving the risk of re-infection as well as the risk of serious disease once re-infected:

“…this meta-analysis showed that, among the subjects that recovered from a first SARS-CoV-2 infection, vaccination was associated with a significant and substantial reduction of the risk of both reinfection and severe COVID-19. This finding was confirmed when the analyses were adjusted for potential confounders, up to 12 months of follow-up, and after any vaccine dose.”

[Checking my vaccination records in Wallet on my iPhone to see about the date of my bivalent booster]

Looks like I got the bivalent booster on September 10, 2022. The way I read this thread, I don’t have to get another booster until Autumn of 2023. Right?

Masks are mandatory in the local hospital complex. My cardiologist has offices in that complex, but masks are optional in that office.

Pending any potential mutation into a new variant that is better at evading the current vaccine-granted protection (and, thus, would necessitate a new booster flavor), that seems right to me.

My daughter is a nurse. She and her husband recently got back from a short vacation in NOLA.

She felt sick yesterday, but was COVID negative. Today she feels worse and tested positive, her first positive ever despite daily exposure at work.

Her husband remains negative and symptom free. He is a physician and is on call. He has had 7 calls, all COVID related.

Each nation has made somewhat different recommendations with regards to vaccination. But in the US, they are recommending that adults have the initial series (2 mRNA or J&J) and a current bivalent booster. They also recommended other boosters at various times for people of different ages and immune status, but none of that impacts the recommendation today, unless you somehow got the old booster after they were supposed to have switched to the bivalent one. (The bivalent boosters were approved for adults at the end of August and you are supposed to get one if you haven’t been boosted in two months.)

Going forward, you should think of this like flu or tetanus. “Am I current?” Adults should have the initial vaccination and be current, and it doesn’t matter much how many boosters you might have gotten in-between the initial series and the current booster.

The best guess of what “current” will mean in the future is probably 1 shot a year for most adults, and possibly more for immune compromised people. But we won’t really know for sure for a while.

I am up to date on my Covid shots, 5 in all. The 2 original and 3 boosters. I read that the need for another booster will depend on how bad any outbreaks that happen this winter. I don’t mind the Covid shots. I recently received my first of 2 shingles vaccine shots and a TDAP booster, both kicked my butt and had be laying low for a few days. I am not looking forward to the next shingles shot, I read the second is worst than the first.