How to perfectly time your new omicron-specific Covid booster

If you’re not one of the 7.6 million Americans who have already gotten the updated omicron-specific Covid booster, you might still be debating one key question: When should I get it?

Experts say most people should get the new booster as soon as possible — particularly ahead of the late fall and winter months, when cases are expected to surge. Last year, cases began to rise in November as cold, dry weather made it easier for the virus to spread. They soared through the end of the year, reaching a peak around mid-January.

Vaccine protection slowly ramps up over two or three weeks post-injection: If you get your shot on October 1, you can probably expect its defenses to be fully kicked in by mid- or late-month. That protection typically lasts about three or four months before beginning to wane.

That’s useful knowledge — but even so, there’s no perfect singular date for booking your booster appointment. It depends on when you last got a Covid vaccine, how recently you were infected with Covid and whether you’re at high risk of severe illness from the virus.

Here’s what you need to know:

If you haven’t gotten a Covid infection or vaccine in recent months

If you’ve had Covid within the last three months

If you’ve gotten a Covid vaccine within the past two months

If you’re elderly, immunocompromised or otherwise at high risk of severe Covid

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