Individuals age 12 and older in the U.S. are now eligible to receive COVID-19 booster shots. Read on for answers to some of the most common questions about COVID booster shots.
Who is eligible to receive a booster shot?
Booster shots are available for those age 18 and older who have taken any of the three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines — depending upon when an individual received their last dose of the initial series. Boosters of the Pfizer vaccine are also available for individuals age 12-17.
- Moderna: The CDC recommends booster shots for everyone age 18 and older who completed the primary Moderna vaccination series at least five months ago.
- Pfizer-BioNTech: The CDC recommends boosters of the Pfizer vaccine for everyone age 12 and older who completed the primary Pfizer vaccination series at least five months ago.
- Johnson & Johnson: The CDC recommends boosters of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for those who are 18 and older who were vaccinated two or more months ago.
Individuals age 18 and older who are eligible for a booster dose may choose which vaccine they want to receive as a booster dose. The Pfizer vaccine is the only COVID vaccine authorized for those under age 18.
Check with your doctor if you are not sure about whether you should receive a COVID-19 booster.
Are the booster shots the same as the initial vaccines?
If you get a Moderna booster, it will be a half-dose of the original vaccine. The Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson boosters will be the same dose as the original shots.
Do I have to get the same booster shot as my original vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are allowing for the switching of vaccines for booster doses if you cannot get the original one you received or prefer to get another one. As long as you meet the criteria for booster shots based on the vaccine you originally received, you can get any booster that is available to you.
When can I get a booster shot?
No matter what booster shot you receive, adults can get a booster five months or later after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two months or more after a Johnson & Johnson vaccine. You should not get one sooner than that.
Where can I get a booster shot?
To find out where vaccine boosters are being given in your area, click here.
Do I need to show proof to get a vaccine booster?
There are no requirements to prove eligibility to receive a booster. Administration of boosters will be done based on an honor system; however it is recommended that individuals bring their vaccine record card showing dates of previous COVID vaccine doses and manufacturer.
Are there side effects to the vaccine booster?
Side effects for booster shots have been shown to be similar to the second dose of two-dose vaccines, according to the CDC. Reactions are mostly mild to moderate and may include symptoms such as fatigue and pain at the injection site.
Can I get a COVID-19 booster shot at the same time as a flu shot?
Yes. Flu vaccines can be given at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine or booster. Or they can be given separately. It’s up to you, but ask your doctor if you have any concerns.
Is there any reason I should not get a vaccine booster if I meet the requirements?
If you have had COVID-19 or received monoclonal antibody treatment (Regeneron), speak with a doctor about whether you should get a booster shot. If you have any questions at all about your eligibility to receive a booster, whether a booster is right for you or which one you should get, your doctor is the best person to ask.
What are the recommendations for those who are immune compromised?
The FDA recommended a third dose (full dose amount) of Pfizer-BioNTech (ages 5+) or Moderna (ages 18+) for those who are fully vaccinated and immunocompromised. If the mRNA vaccine product given for the first two doses is not available or unknown, either mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) may be administered. A third dose is recommended to occur at least 28 days after completion of the initial two-dose series. At this time, this does not apply to those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It is recommended that those who are immunocompromised consult with their health care provider prior to receiving a third dose.
Learn more about COVID vaccination, including boosters, at MauryRegional.com/COVIDvaccine.
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Date Last Reviewed: October 22, 2021
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor