What side effects can you expect from the COVID-19 booster shot?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Looking to get your booster shot? You’re in luck. On Friday, CDC and FDA experts gave the green light for all Americans over the age of 18 to get the third shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. 

News 8’s Ally Peters spoke to local doctors about the importance of the booster shot. 

“When we look at our cases, our vaccinated cases in particular, we noticed that folks that have been beyond six months vaccine, the efficacy wanes and we see cases arising from that. So I’m very happy about increased booster availability for all,” said Jennifer Rodriguez, the Public Health Director of Livingston County. 

As COVID cases continue to spike across the Finger Lakes region, doctors say the vaccine will play an important role in preventing breakthrough cases and better protecting those who have already been vaccinated. 

“I think it’s important for several reasons. One of the reasons is our transmission rate and the number of new infections… it’s rare. Last time I checked, we were among, if not the highest in the state, our positivity rate is something like 8%. And unfortunately, we’re seeing more and more patients in the hospital, including the ICU, which is a concerning trend,” said Emil Lesho, an Infectious Disease Doctor for Rochester Regional Health.

For those over 18 looking to get the third shot, experts say it won’t be very different from the COVID vaccines you’ve already received. 

“Fortunately what we’re seeing in all the patients and colleagues that get it, is the reaction to the booster shot is very similar in most of the time it’s often no worse at all then what type of reaction you had with the first or second shot,” Lesho said. 

Symptoms could include a fever, sore arm, fatigue or a head ache. Doctors say these symptoms usually last for about 24 to 48 hours after you get your shot. Lesho said you should not have any issues breathing after you get the vaccine. 

“You shouldn’t be short of breath, shouldn’t have any difficulty breathing after any type of the vaccine, and that could be a sign of a different infection or an actual COVID infection,” he said. 

Doctors remind people that any symptoms following the shot are often far less intense than actually getting COVID. 

we talked about the mild reactions you get after you get vaccinated for 20 to 24 hours or so imagine that multiplied by 10. And think about it for a minimum of 10 days, if not longer, and that’s what COVID feels like,” said Angela Branche, an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester. 

Branche said COVID isn’t always just a week-long illness and then you get better. For many people, it can last weeks or months. 

“COVID increases risk of blood clots, COVID increase risk of stroke, COVID increases risks of long-term heart disease and inflammation of the heart,” Branche said. “Being treated for COVID could exacerbate your underlying respiratory illnesses, your heart disease, your diabetes.”

While getting the third shot is important, doctors say what’s most important is that those who haven’t been vaccinated yet get their first shot.

“Up to nine out of 10 patients who are in the intensive care unit for COVID and on the ventilators, are on heart lung machines, are unvaccinated patients,” Lesho said. “I think it’s more important to get the primary series because that has been proven safe and very effective at keeping you out of the hospital, keeping you out of the intensive care unit.”

Currently in Monroe County, around 70 percent of the population has their first shot. 

You can sign up for a booster shot by clicking here.

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