Monday, July 15, 2024
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How Many COVID Boosters Can I Get?

Can you get vaccinated “too much”? It turns out, probably not!

A German man vaccinated against COVID-19 over 200 times in two and a half years is in good health, experiencing no adverse effects. Neither the 217 pokes at his immune response nor the vaccine carrier solutions caused injury or side effects.

With the recent outbreak of measles in Florida and ongoing misinformation by certain politicians, you might have run into friends or family nervous about “over vaccinating.” But following the publication of this case study in The Lancet Infectious diseases, we now have one more vaccine-safety data point.

A COVID Booster Bandit?

The German researchers explain how prosecutors suspected a 62-year-old Magdeburg man of medical insurance fraud after being alerted to unusual pharmacy charges. Over the course of two years, this chap had “deliberately and for private reasons” sought 217 COVID-19 shots. At some points he claimed he was receiving two jabs a day for weeks at a time.

This COVID connoisseur sampled an impressive collection of vaxes, featuring variety in both brand and technology. He opted for the adenovirus based J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines, the Moderna and Pfizer (original and omicron BA.4/BA.5) mRNA vaccines and even the Sanofi/GSK protein spike booster vaccine.

Prosecutors dropped their case against the suspected booster bandit after he produced the receipts. Paperwork confirmed that he had, in fact, received over 130 doses of various COVID-19 shots over a nine-month period in 2022. So how did getting all of these shots work out for him? Other than almost landing him in jail, of course! A team of German immunologists jumped on the case to find out exactly this.

Is It Safe?

The key facts learned were:

  • The vaccine solvent formulations did not make him sick, despite having had them injected over 200 times in a short period.
  • The vaccine did not make him sick, even though he received some version 60 more times.
  • The spike protein alone, specifically did not make him sick.
  • Even after challenging his immune system 217 times for the same virus, his immune system behaved normally and did not harm him.
  • After six months getting 217 doses of COVID-19 vaccine wasn’t much better than getting three doses.

No Adverse Effects

The team led by Kilian Schober of Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany got Magdeburg Man into the lab for a series of health checks. They soon determined that the man had suffered from no adverse events or side effects since he started his booster bender. His standard blood tests came back normal with no evidence of poisoning or injury.

Despite being dosed repeatedly with buffers and solvents that some anti-vaccine campaigners wrongly claim are toxic, he was in good health. The immunologists found no indication that the chemical helpers or preservatives had harmed him in any way.

Also a keen user of COVID-19 diagnostic tests, our jab junkie showed no evidence of ever having caught the virus. PCR, antigen and nucleocapsid serology tests all came back negative over a series of months.

Here Comes the Science Part

Next, the Bavarian boffins investigated whether getting 217 shots had made any difference to his immune system function. They rounded up 29 vaccinated volunteers who had only three doses of an mRNA based COVID jab. They pitted the human guinea pigs’ immune systems against that of the man. Over the course of six months, the scientists took blood and saliva samples from all participants. They analyzed the samples to see what antibodies were plentiful, and which virus fighting immune cells were present and activated.

At first, the man had higher levels of COVID spike protein binding IgG antibodies (a marker of long-term immunity) than the control group. Six months on, however, and the difference was less pronounced. These IgG antibodies were plentiful in his blood serum and surprisingly, also in his saliva. This suggested that his immune system was primed to intercept any variant of the virus with that spike protein. His IgG levels were high enough to catch and disable the original SARS-CoV-2 virus 5.4 times better than the control samples. They were also a whopping 11.5 times more effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant of the virus. Reassuringly, he didn’t seem to have developed a disproportionate amount of IgG4 class antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Extra IgG4 can be a sign that you might have overstimulated your immune system.

Cell Patrol

Blood tests for virus busting white blood cells showed he had slightly more spike targeting T-cells. T-cells are the ones that spot when a virus has infected a cell, and kill it off. This increase was not to levels that could be harmful to the patient. Interestingly, the 200 plus doses of vaccine didn’t seem to influence the number of his B-Cells. B-cells are the memory cells patrolling your body making specific antibodies. This means after the first few inoculations his adaptive immune system had things figured out. Importantly, it also showed repeatedly stimulating his immune system didn’t send his B-cells berserk.

Safe not Sorry

All in all, getting vaccinated 217 times gave him a small lift in immunity, compared to three shots, but it didn’t affect his adaptive immune system much. Those extra 214 vaccines really didn’t offer much advantage after six months.

On the other hand, we now know that in at least one person, nothing terrible seems to happen if you keep exposing your immune system to the same or similar antigens in a vaccine.

It didn’t trigger a nasty immune reaction. He hasn’t as yet developed a problem with IgG4. His adaptive immune system seems normal and healthy. The spike protein fragment that the vaccine introduced into his body didn’t make him sick. Mixing the vaccines didn’t cause any problems. He still hadn’t contracted COVID-19 as of the Lancet Infectious Diseases report. Whether that’s because he takes extreme precautions against the virus, or if his IgGs are supercharged from all those jabs? Impossible to say.

So what does this mean? Well, reassuringly the ingredients of all the vaccines are safe. Getting boosted once or twice a year for COVID-19 is unlikely to do you any harm in the short-term or the long-term, so book that appointment now!


Kocher K, Moosmann C, Drost F, et al. Adaptive immune responses are larger and functionally preserved in a hypervaccinated individual. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2024;0(0). doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(24)00134-8

Rispens T, Huijbers MG. The unique properties of IgG4 and its roles in health and disease. Nat Rev Immunol. 2023;23(11):763-778. doi:10.1038/s41577-023-00871-z

Joanna Mulvaney PhD
Joanna Mulvaney PhD
Joanna Mulvaney worked as a bench researcher for much of her career before transitioning to science communication. She completed a PhD in developmental biology focusing on cell signaling in cardiogenesis at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, before moving on to study axial skeleton development and skeletal myogenesis at King’s College London and regeneration of auditory cells in the ear at University of California San Diego Medical School, USA and Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto, Canada. When it comes to scientific information, her philosophy is: make it simple, make it clear, make it useful.


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