COVID-19 Booster Vaccine queries from the Lambeth Community answered by local GP
The Wellbeing Ambassadors bring fresh queries from the community gathered through their day-to-day engagement in the Lambeth neighbourhoods, and they are answered by local GPs below:
Why is it okay to mix the booster but not the 1st & 2nd dose jab?
We can only recommend what we have researched and evidenced. There basically had not been enough study of mixing 1st and 2nd dose as that is not how the vaccines were first designed and produced by the manufacturers (Pfizer, AZ, Moderna etc..) so we could not guarantee patients their immune response from mixing the first 2 doses.
From Summer 2021 the Joint Committee of Vaccinations and Immunisations working with the NHS have been able to gather enough data from newer studies (CovBoost study: https://www.nihr.ac.uk/news/data-from-nihr-supported-studies-inform-uk-covid-19-booster-programme/28663) now so that they can be confident of a different booster working.
Fundamentally it is about keeping the integrity of the advice given to the public - we only recommend what we can show evidence for. Not recommending what ‘feels’ right.
Is there any truth in the vaccines wearing off? Also if someone does not take the booster but are double vaccinated will it make any difference?
Simply put - yes we believe the vaccine protection does reduce over time. This is normal in a lot of vaccines (that’s why we need a flu jab every year or tetanus booster when we go travelling). The uncertainty at the moment is how quickly it reduces and to what extent.
The best evidence we have at the moment suggests that after 6 months even if you have both doses your risk of getting infected starts to increase again.
But if you do get infected the 2 doses are still excellent at making sure the infection is mild (you won’t end up in hospital).
With this in mind, that is why the decision has been made to give a booster to the priority groups over 50 rather than everyone.
If there is a slightly increased risk over time of being infected you want to bolster protection to the most vulnerable.
Those under 50 and healthy had a low risk to start with so the double dose is likely enough to see them through winter
That does not automatically mean we will need repeat boosters forever…
Many hope the 3rd dose will be enough to provide long term protection. This is because the more you stimulate the body’s immune system the more it realises it needs to keep those antibodies around long term and so ‘remembers’ better. It may also be the case the more vulnerable will need an annual covid jab just like the annual flu jab. We will understand this more next year