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IU Health doctor answers questions about COVID booster shot for all adults

IU Health primary care physician Dr. Shuchi Talwar answered some common questions about the COVID-19 booster shots.

INDIANAPOLIS — The FDA is opening up COVID booster shots to all adults. Pfizer and Moderna announced the decision Friday. However, there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to get getting yet another shot to protect against COVID-19.

13News took some of your most asked questions to a doctor for answers. Dr. Shuchi Talwar is a primary care physician at IU Health.

"We haven't even hit the holiday weekend yet, and cases are starting to rise," Talwar said.

She's answering some of the most common questions about the COVID vaccine and the booster shots that are expected to soon be available for all adults.

Q: How long after getting your vaccine series should you wait to get your booster?

A: It's at least six months after competing your Pfizer or Modern vaccine. It's two months for Johnson & Johnson.

Q: Is there a grace period? How long is too long to wait to get your booster before you have to redo the vaccine series?

A: Because you already have your immunity built up with the initial series, there's no set grace period. But waiting too long does raise the risk of lower antibodies.

Q: How long will the booster be effective?

A: There's not a concrete answer for that yet.

"As we find out what the sweet spot is, in terms of how long the antibodies last in our system, or how quickly the virus is evolving, that will guide us in terms of how quickly after their booster shot do we need to repeat one," Talwar said.

Q: Is it safe to get a flu vaccine and the booster?

A: Patients can get them same day, same arm and at the same time.

Q: Can you mix companies?

A: Researchers have seen equal antibody response, regardless of which booster vaccine you get. It is safe to get any of them.

Q: Which company is considered the most effective?

A: Studies have shown Moderna antibodies may be lasting a little bit longer, but all three have kept patients out of the hospital. 

Q: Will side effects be similar?

A: Side effects will change on a person-to-person basis.

"I will tell you with myself, it was really the same as my second shot," Talwar said. "It was body aches, fevers, etc."

IU Health requires an appointment to get the COVID booster, with walk-ins on certain days. Some pharmacies are also doing walk-ins. Patients will need their ID and vaccine card.

"We're doing pretty good on vaccination supply. That's not a concern," Talwar said.

As a result of COVID vaccine discussions, Talwar has seen more patients hesitant about getting other vaccines. She made sure to note to continue to getting vaccinated against other illnesses.

MORE: Study finds mixing & matching COVID boosters to be safe, effective

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