When should I receive the new Omicron bivalent COVID-19 booster?

When is the best time to get the updated Omicron booster socket?

While someone’s schedule could change based on health, employment or travel plans, officials generally recommend getting the extra bivalent dose before the fall and winter holiday season.

With Halloween just over a month away, “it’s a good idea to plan to boost your protection with this updated booster in the coming weeks,” said Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at UC San Francisco, suggested that eligible people get both the new booster and flu shot by October at the latest.

“If you’re trick-or-treating for Halloween and you haven’t gotten your flu shot or booster yet, that’s probably when you should go all out and get it,” she said.

Officials say it takes two weeks after the injection to get the full protective effect of the booster. The maximum effectiveness of the vaccine will be one month after the injection, but people should enjoy a good degree of protection for four to five months, according to Chin-Hong.

The upgraded shot is known as bivalent reinforcement. Unlike the conventional monovalent vaccine and booster, which was designed only against the original strain of coronavirus, the new injection targets the original strain and the Omicron subvariants that have dominated the United States in recent months, including the BA.5.

The updated boosts mean most Californians “will be able to bolster their protection against COVID-19 as we head into the fall and winter seasons,” state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, and Dr. Tomás Aragon, director of public health for California and the state health officer, said in a joint statement earlier this month.

“Because protection against infection can wane over time, updated boosters are a safe way to maintain protection and reduce the most serious outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization, long-term COVID-19, and dead,” his statement continued.

During the first fall and winter wave of the pandemic in 2020, cases of the coronavirus in California began to rise in November and accelerated sharply in December. Last year, cases started to rise in December.

Chin-Hong said people who have not strengthened or recovered from a coronavirus infection this calendar year should plan to get the new vaccine sooner rather than later.

And those who have a big trip, or are headed to a place with a higher risk of exposure, may want to schedule their booster accordingly, at least two weeks after their event.

But Ferrer and Chin-Hong say people at higher risk of serious illness, such as the elderly, immunocompromised or pregnant, should get the new booster without delay.

“People who are at risk of serious complications … I would probably go ahead and give them now because that’s really my priority group,” Chin-Hong said.

However, there are a few reasons why it’s okay to delay getting a booster.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention generally suggests that residents stay longer if it’s been less than three months since they tested positive for the coronavirus or started experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, whichever came first .

Other factors could alter this timing, such as a person’s risk factors for developing a serious illness.

A person must also be at least two months removed from their last vaccination or conventional booster dose before receiving the updated booster.

It’s not dangerous to get the new booster earlier than recommended, Chin-Hong said. But waiting for enough time to pass will help produce a more effective immune response.

For those at lower risk of severe illness from COVID-19, some experts say it may make sense to wait a little, making the shot a little closer, but not too close, to Thanksgiving and the winter holidays.

“While it is humbling to look back and remember the enormity of the impact of COVID on our lives, we are also encouraged as we face our third winter with COVID as we head into the colder months with an updated fall boost that it matches the variants that are currently circulating”, said Ferrer during a recent information session.

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