Medically reviewed by: Dr. Robert Segal, M.D.
According to the CDC, more than half of the United States population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As we get further along from the vaccine becoming widely available, more and more people are becoming eligible for a booster shot to increase their resistance to infection. The COVID booster shot has raised questions about how to properly gauge your level of immunity to the virus, with some people getting antibody tests to get answers on whether or not they should get a booster. However, this is not necessary and will not provide relevant information with regard to your need for a booster shot.
To explain, let’s go over the basics of the COVID booster and who should actually be getting tested for coronavirus antibodies..
Who Should Get a COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot?
In the United States, coronavirus vaccine booster shots are openly available to anyone who is over the age of 18 and who received their second shot of the COVID mRNA vaccine at least six months ago. While getting vaccinated does greatly reduce your risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, as well as the likelihood of severe illness if infection does occur, study has shown that the effects of the vaccine grow weaker over time.
COVID booster shots have been shown to increase your level of immunity against the coronavirus, including the delta variant which has been driving much of the pandemic numbers in recent months. If you became fully vaccinated over six months ago, you are eligible for a booster shot, which is free and available now. While some people may prefer to receive a booster of the same type (i.e. Pfizer, Moderna) as their initial vaccination, you can also “mix and match” and still get effective results.
Keep in mind that neither the COVID vaccination nor the COVID booster shot is guaranteed to prevent being infected with the virus, as breakthrough cases have been documented. However, evidence shows that both the vaccine and subsequent boosters significantly reduce your risk of contracting or spreading COVID, and are thus vital parts of our public health response to this pandemic.
Will a COVID Antibody Test Tell You If Your Vaccine Is Still Working?
Some people have wondered about how to determine the best time to receive a booster, and whether an antibody test may help them make an informed decision. While the antibody test will tell you whether you have COVID antibodies as a result of vaccination or a previous infection, it does not gauge your actual level of immunity and is not a reliable indicator of whether or not you should get a booster shot. Ultimately, it’s important to get the vaccine followed by a booster after six months regardless of anything you may learn from an antibody test.
Who Should Get Antibody Testing?
While antibody testing can not tell you whether you are currently infected with COVID-19 the way that a PCR nasal swab would, it can indicate whether or not you have had the virus in the past. This information may be valuable to your doctor in identifying the cause of previous COVID-like symptoms or effectively treating any lingering effects of the coronavirus. You can use Labfinder’s online portal to book an appointment for a COVID antibody test, as well as both PCR and rapid antigen testing for the presence of the coronavirus.