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If you are 50 or older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends a second COVID-19 booster shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine at least four months after getting the first booster.
As Yale New Haven Health Chief Clinical Officer Thomas Balcezak explained, the vaccines have been proved to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, but the level of protection does start to wane. A recent CDC analysis found that after four months, the effectiveness of a booster shot in preventing hospitalizations declined from 91 to 78 percent.
“It’s really important, I think, for folks over the age of 50, particularly those who have comorbid conditions like diabetes or underlying lung disease, to go ahead and seek and get that booster now,” Balcezak said during a recent press conference streamed on Facebook and Zoom.
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If you are planning to do so, there are a few things you can try — or avoid — to improve your body’s response to the booster and potentially give yourself better protection against the disease.
1. Be well rested
Studies have shown that sleep matters when it comes to enhancing your response to vaccines. “Getting sufficient high-quality sleep on a regular basis strengthens your body’s immune system and optimizes your response to a vaccine,” American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Kannan Ramar, M.D., said in a statement.
A 2020 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that the flu vaccine appears to be more effective in people who get adequate sleep for the two nights prior to receiving the shot. Similar results have been found in other studies on vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B, which showed lower antibody responses among individuals who got less sleep.
“Studies have shown that normal sleep after vaccination strengthens the immune response against an invading antigen and this immunity-boosting effect of sleep is clinically significant,” Khurshid A. Khurshid, M.D., director of the UMMHC/UMMS Center for Neuromodulation at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said in a statement. “A good night’s sleep before and after vaccination could be very advantageous.”