This is about me taking more covid vaccine than is typically recommended.
I believe in the efficacy of vaccines. But currently we have a problem with the covid vaccine: it isn’t built for Omicron. Great against Delta, but not very good against the prevalent Omicron strain in the world today.
While normal vaccination is effective against hospitalization, it only protects against Omicron symptoms and the possible effects of long-covid for 8-10 weeks.
As numerous studies have shown, including one recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the current covid vaccines give a respectable 74 percent-ish protection but drop off fast. After three months, the body has basically forgotten and isn’t adequately protected.
Eventually there will be a better vaccine. But not today. So we have a choice: accept that we will get covid, or regularly boost our immunity with a shot every 2-3 months until a better vaccine comes on the market.
This is not what governments typically recommend, but a survey of the literature strongly suggests it. The reasons for recommending less frequent vaccination has more to do with supply, population-wide calculations, liability concerns and the optics around vaccination advocacy, as best I can tell. In reality, there’s no such thing as too many booster shots for most people.
“You’re not going to come anywhere close to inundating the immune system or overexposing it, even if somebody were to get vaccinated every four months for the rest of their lives,” noted Otto Yang, MD in an article on the topic recently, an infectious disease physician and associate chief of infectious disease at UCLA.
The problem is that many countries make it hard to get vaccinations beyond four shots. And given the fear and confusion generally around the pandemic, governments have typically taken a “just follow what we say” approach and discouraged thoughtful individual consideration. So going beyond the normal frequency has been hard and discouraged.
Exceeding Covid Vaccine Recommendations
This brings us to me and my personal approach right now.
I’m not overly concerned about covid on a personal level. I respect it, and I would rather avoid long-covid symptoms. But I also believe strongly in living life.
That’s why I’ve consistently taken a thoughtful middle path during the pandemic, choosing locations with less covid and isolating when I must, wearing masks and washing hands, but not stopping normal life either. I’ve isolated just six months during the entire course of the pandemic, and thus far I’ve stayed covid-free. So I trust a thoughtful middle path.
To me, the middle path right now suggests normal life but booster shots every 2-3 months until a better vaccine emerges. The odds just don’t look good without regular top-ups, which is why I got my fifth covid vaccination recently. I expect to have around eight shots before we get an upgraded vaccine.
Going beyond what governments typically recommend feels kinda cool, and kinda sketchy at the same time. I definitely don’t make this decision casually.
Exceeding the normal recommendations definitely is experimental, too. But let’s be honest; this whole pandemic is experimental, and walking around with diminished protection is more sketchy than ignoring government recommendations.
So for me, given the data, a little extra vaccine is the way to go right now. Just as I mixed Astra-Zeneca with Moderna before it was widely practiced, I’m now willing to take a leading edge on increased booster shot frequency given the data. I’m just working with what I’ve got.
Let’s see how it turns out.