It’s a fact that the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters have been the best protection possible against severe illness, hospitalization and death.
It’s also a fact that the virus that causes COVID-19 has changed over time, resulting in new variants, including some that are highly transmissible and can cause illness.
“The pandemic is not over. We are still fighting COVID-19 and its variants. It is critically important not to let your guard down and to stay up to date with your vaccines, including boosters, to protect your health,” says Ghazala Sharieff, MD, chief medical officer, clinical excellence and experience at Scripps Health. “If we want to limit virus mutations, we need more people to get fully vaccinated and boosted.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months and older to get vaccinated and, if eligible, to get boosters.
You are considered up to date if you’ve completed a COVID-19 vaccine primary series and received the most recent booster dose recommended by the CDC.
Vaccine recommendations are based on age, vaccine first received and length of time since your last dose. People who have weakened immune systems have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines.
Vaccine effectiveness can decrease over time. Boosters enhance or restore protection against COVID-19 and its variants.
The CDC recommends updated COVID-19 boosters for everyone 5 years and up.
No vaccine is 100 percent effective. Some people who are vaccinated may still get sick from COVID-19 but their risk of getting very sick is much lower than people who are not vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Cases of vaccinated people still getting COVID-19 are referred to as breakthrough infections.
The CDC recommends people who are exposed to COVID-19 to watch out for symptoms, regardless of their vaccination status.
The CDC recommends:
- Wearing a mask as soon as learning you were exposed
- Watching for symptoms, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath
- Testing immediately if you develop symptoms
- Waiting five days if exposed but without symptoms
If you test positive, the CDC recommends:
- Staying home at least five days and isolate from others
- Wearing a mask around others at home and in public
- Monitoring symptoms and seek emergency care in case of severe symptoms
- Ending isolation after day five if fever-free for 24 hours without use of fever reducing medications
Isolation guidelines vary depending on how sick you were. Isolate for 10 days, for example if your infection caused moderate or severe illness.
Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about symptoms or when to end isolation.