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What People With Migraine Should Know About Getting a Second COVID-19 Booster Shot

Posted on July 28, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Robert Hurd, M.D.
Article written by
Manuel Penton, M.D.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved a second COVID-19 booster shot of the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for people over 50 years old and those who are immunocompromised.
  • The American Migraine Foundation advises people with migraine to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have authorized and recommended a second COVID-19 booster shot for people 50 and over and those with immunocompromising conditions.

“Migraine can be a life-altering and disabling disease, but COVID-19 is a life-threatening disease. Get the vaccine!” the American Migraine Foundation advises.

The New Recommendations

Some important details about these recommendations include the following:

  • This booster is for people who received their first booster at least four months ago.
  • This fourth shot would be of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, not the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • Even if you were previously vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it is now recommended that this next dose be a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine only.
  • For those who are immunocompromised and received a three-dose primary vaccination followed by an initial booster, this additional booster counts as a fifth shot.

How Booster Shots Can Protect People With Migraine

If you’re living with migraine, you may be wondering what the experts say about the importance of getting vaccinated to protect against COVID-19. The American Migraine Foundation advises people with migraine to get vaccinated and urges individuals to talk with their health care providers if they are unsure about whether to get the vaccine.

The CDC’s list of underlying medical conditions doesn’t explicitly list migraine as a condition that may qualify someone for a second booster shot. The list of underlying medical conditions includes, for example, chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart conditions, obesity, smoking or smoking history, and HIV infection.

“Got my second COVID booster on Sunday,” wrote one MyMigraineTeam member. Another said, “Only a sore arm for me with this booster shot.”

Talk with your doctor if you have questions about your eligibility for an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Why Booster Shots Matter

Research indicates that antibody levels are likely to decrease over time, so getting booster doses at recommended intervals is necessary — even for vaccinated people who made antibodies after their initial shots.

Simply making antibodies does not always translate to complete immunity from COVID-19 infection. The findings from recent studies, however, are promising. In one study of immunocompromised people with cancer, researchers tested levels of antibodies, the proteins the immune system makes to help destroy a target. In this case, the antibodies were to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, made in response to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

On average, antibodies against the coronavirus were identified after the second vaccine dose in about 90 percent of the study’s 515 participants. These results are considered a good sign that vaccines using mRNA — which include those by Moderna and Pfizer — for COVID-19 can trigger strong responses, even from people with compromised immune systems. It’s evidence that vaccines can protect people at higher risk of severe infections.

One study of 841 people with migraine found that more than 60 percent of participants experienced a headache following vaccination against COVID-19. However, the American Migraine Foundation notes that the impact of COVID-19 on your health is likely to be worse than the side effects you may experience from the vaccination. Additionally, many people, with and without a migraine diagnosis, get headaches as a result of having COVID-19 itself. Studies have even shown that people with migraine and headache disorders tend to experience more days with headaches after being infected by the virus. Your best bet is to talk with your doctor about whether vaccination is the right choice for you.

According to the CDC, getting vaccinated is still the best way to protect yourself and slow the spread of the virus. If you are unvaccinated because you had an immunodeficiency or autoimmune disease, were being treated for cancer, or are an organ transplant recipient, this new research should give you confidence to speak with your health care provider about when a COVID-19 vaccine would be right for you.

Find Your Team

On MyMigraineTeam, the social support network for people with migraine and their loved ones, members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand.

Are you considering getting a second booster shot? Have you discussed any concerns with your health care provider? Share your insights in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Robert Hurd, M.D. is a professor of endocrinology and health care ethics at Xavier University. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Manuel Penton, M.D. is a medical editor at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about him here.

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