Say yes when you are offered a booster dose
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Due to the rapid spread of the omicron variant, everyone who is recommended to have a booster dose should accept the coronavirus vaccine they are offered.
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Among fully vaccinated people, protection against infection with coronavirus decreases with time since the last dose, and more so for the omicron than for the delta variant. For the oldest in society, a booster dose is needed to maintain good protection against a severe disease course.
“We assume that more fully vaccinated people will be infected in the future, especially with the omicron variant. Therefore, it is important that everyone who is now offered a booster dose chooses to accept it as soon as possible,” says Geir Bukholm, Assistant Director-General at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Bukholm explains that although it is too early to quantify exactly how good and how long the protection from the booster dose lasts against the new virus variant, there are clear signs that protection increases.
Both types of vaccine used in Norway are very good. They are similar in how they are made and work, and both will be used for booster vaccinations. It also means that some people will receive a booster dose with a different vaccine than the one they received for the first two doses.
“We have good experience with the combination of coronavirus vaccines from Moderna and BioNTech / Pfizer, both in Norway and abroad. This type of combination provides at least as good protection as getting all the doses of the same vaccine type,” says Bukholm.
The same applies to booster doses with mRNA vaccines for those who have previously received the vaccine from AstraZeneca.
For the booster dose, the coronavirus vaccine from Moderna is an equally good choice as the one from BioNTech / Pfizer. The Moderna vaccine generally produces a slightly higher level of antibodies than the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine. High antibody levels are important for protection against infection with the various virus variants.
“Many people will be offered a booster dose within a few weeks, and both types of vaccine may not always be available. I encourage everyone to accept the vaccine that is offered so that we increase the protection for the individual and society quickly,” says Bukholm
Side effects for the two types of vaccine and in combination
The Moderna vaccine generally has slightly more of the common and temporary side effects than the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine. These include pain and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, chills, joint pain and fever.
It has not been shown that a combination of different types of vaccines produces any other side effects than when the same type is used for all doses.
In both cases, both vaccines can cause side effects such as inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) and inflammation of the pericardium (pericarditis). The condition occurs primarily among younger people and for these it seems to occur more often when using the Moderna vaccine than the vaccine from BioNTech / Pfizer. Among older age groups, this is very rare and there is no difference in risk between the vaccines.
Based on current Norwegian side effect data, it appears that fewer side effects are reported after a third dose than after the first two doses. The same has been seen both in studies and from reports from other countries that have given booster doses for a long time.