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Newest COVID booster available in the fall

A nurse prepares a syringe of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)
A nurse prepares a syringe of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere, experts say. While many Americans have received numerous doses of the vaccine against it, there’s another booster shot on the way. The new booster is already in development and should be available to the public in late September and early October.

This recent iteration of the vaccine is supposed to be more effective in preventing contraction of the virus. And experts like Dr. Ashish Jha — who served as the White House COVID-19 response coordinator — say that taking the shot when you’re eligible is important for your health.

“Nobody loves getting shots, but these shots are literally saving lives,” he says.

Jha says he understands that some people are wary since the COVID-19 pandemic has only been in the public consciousness for a few years. He notes widespread worry over the impacts of coronavirus vaccines years down the line.

But current vaccine research tells a different story. For similar vaccines that have existed much longer than those for COVID-19, negative effects are only seen within about eight weeks of being inoculated. So concerns of adverse effects years down the line don’t have much basis in immunology, Jha says.

COVID-19 isn’t the only virus to be cautious of. Each winter, even before the pandemic, there’s been a notable spike in heart attacks, strokes and even death, primarily among elderly populations. And respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, the flu or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are often to blame.

“Get the flu shot, get the COVID shot, get them all at once. Your immune system can totally handle it,” Jha says.

While elderly and immunocompromised people are at the highest risk for respiratory illnesses and their complications, Jha says that it’s important for people even in lower-risk groups to be immunized.

“This is the first season, this winter coming up, where we are going to have highly effective vaccines against the three major respiratory viruses: RSV, flu, and COVID,” Jha says. “Go get those vaccines, and it will make a dramatic difference in reducing your risk of getting sick this winter.”

Julia Corcoran produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Grace Griffin adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.