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The Third Vaccine: Your Questions Answered

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

by Dusan Borovic

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a third vaccine (i.e. booster shot) to be used for individuals 18-64 at high risk of developing severe symptoms from COVID-19. The design of the booster shot is to provide protection against the Delta variant, an evolved strain of the virus which was first discovered in India during the country’s “dark winter” surge of 2020. The third dose is the same mRNA vaccine as the previous two shots.

Clinical trials from Johns Hopkins Medicine have proven that immunocompromised individuals (those with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, HIV, and people taking certain medications) are at greater risk of having a severe response to the evolved variant. Those not immunocompromised will be eligible for their third dose eight months after receiving the second.


Why do I need a booster shot/third vaccine?

A booster shot is essential to protecting people of all age ranges from the evolved Delta variant. The higher rate of transmission and the stronger symptoms produced by the virus strain, a worrisome threat to the unvaccinated, immunocompromised and young people. Yale Medicine reports; “Children, teenagers, and young adults are a concern, too. A study from the United Kingdom showed that children and adults under 50 were 2.5 times more likely to become infected with Delta.”

While Pfizer-Biotech has applied for FDA authorization of its vaccine for children ages 5-11, as of yet, no vaccine is available for that age group. And although children ages 12 and above are currently eligible for the vaccine, “[L]ess than 50% of teenagers In the U.S. were vaccinated at the end of July.” As hospitalization rates rise for the unvaccinated of all ages, there must be a stronger emphasis to inform and educate about the importance of vaccination.

How do the (mRNA) vaccines build immunity?

To answer this, it’s important to understand how mRNA vaccines interact with the immune system. The first shot introduces the body to the proteins present in the virus, and white blood cells form an army of antibodies which fight off the proteins. After recognizing the proteins from the second shot, the body develops a faster defense response. After each shot, the response time decreases, and the antibodies increase.

Should the third vaccine be the same as the previous two vaccines?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends getting the same shot. If your original two shots were from Moderna, the third should also be from Moderna, as the interactions of mixing vaccines has not been studied enough to recommend it.

The strongest factor in our ability to navigate through this pandemic has been the factual information provided by experts. It’s in everyone’s best interest to research from reputable sources and realize the scale of this pandemic, as well as how to assist in controlling the spread.

There exist plenty of resources to be examined, and the fact that they are so accessible helps science educate everyone.


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