How Many COVID Vaccine Doses Do You Need For The Best Protection?

The pandemic is now entering its third year and while cases have dropped since previous highs, there continues to be new variants and sub-variants that can even cause infections in people who are vaccinated. Along with the different strains, there are three FDA-approved vaccines from which to choose, which is great news, but as the new strains emerge, the experts at Yale Medicine remind us that it is more vital than ever to keep up with the latest accurate information about the vaccines and the optimal ways to protect yourself against infection.

According to Yale Medicine, the three FDA-authorized vaccines are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines, which instruct your cells to create spike proteins that your immune system will recognize as intruders and produce antibodies. These vaccines are a two-dose primary vaccine regimen and help prepare your immune system against an actual COVID infection. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one-shot virus vector vaccine that works more similarly to a flu vaccine. 

The optimal number of doses you should have for best protection will depend on which vaccine you receive, whether you are immunocompromised, and other factors, per Yale Medicine.

These are the minimum number of COVID vaccine doses you need

According to a study recently published in the British Medical Journal, experts found that three doses of one of the mRNA vaccines were most effective against both symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19. This means you'd want to get two doses of the primary vaccine course, followed by a booster shot. Researchers determined these findings based on the weekly monitoring of 53 studies across 38 World Health Organization (WHO) databases since March 2022.

These types of three-dose regimens proved to be effective against different COVID variants and across all age-groups, as well as those who are immunocompromised. However, the results were inconclusive about how effective the three-dose COVID vaccine regimen is in lowering the risk of death, per WebMD. Experts are also unsure how effective this regimen is against Omicron, as the data was collected prior to the virus variant outbreak.