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Are COVID-19 boosters the same as the original vaccines?
Yes, COVID-19 boosters use the same recipe as the original shots, despite the emergence of the more contagious delta variant. The vaccines weren’t tweaked to better match delta because they’re still working well.
The vaccines work by training your body to recognize and fight the spike protein that coats the coronavirus and helps it invade the body’s cells. Delta’s mutations fortunately weren’t different enough to escape detection.
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A COVID-19 vaccine clinic was held on Oct. 25 at the Haverford Township Municipal Building for area first responders and those eligible for the booster shots of all three vaccines.
(Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group/Daily Times via Getty Images)
The increased protection you might get from a booster adjusted to better match the delta or other variants would be marginal, says Dr. Paul Goepfert, director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Manufacturing doses with a new formula would have also delayed the rollout of boosters.
Moderna and Pfizer are studying boosters tweaked for the delta and other variants to be ready if one’s ever needed. Health authorities would have to decide if and when a vaccine formula swap would be worthwhile.
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“What we don’t know,” Goepfert noted, “is if you have a delta vaccine compared to the regular vaccine, does it actually work better in preventing transmission or asymptomatic infection?”
Dr. Richard Schwartz receives COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine booster at Teaching Center LIJ Medical Center. The COVID-19 booster shots have the same recipe as the original vaccines.
( Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The U.S. has authorized booster doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for certain people, and a few other countries also are using boosters of those shots or other COVID-19 vaccines.
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