• COVID-19 Booster Doses FAQs

    Below are answers to commonly asked questions about COVID-19 vaccine boosters. These points were excerpted from CDC's Frequently Asked Questions.

    Who can get a COVID-19 vaccine booster?
    Those people who have completed a primary series (2 shots) of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least 6 months ago and who fall into one of the following categories: 

    • people aged 65 years and older
    • residents aged 18 years and older in long-term care settings
    • people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions
    • people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions, based on their individual benefits and risks
    • people aged 18–64 years at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting, based on their individual benefits and risks

    What occupations are considered at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure?
    Right now, the following occupations have been highlighted by the CDC, but this list may change: 

    • First responders (healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff
    • Education staff (teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
    • Food and agriculture workers
    • Manufacturing workers
    • Corrections workers
    • U.S. Postal Service workers
    • Public transit workers
    • Grocery store workers

    If we need a booster, does that mean that the vaccine is not working?
    The COVID-19 vaccines are working very well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant.  However, with the Delta variant, we are starting to see reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. For that reason, we are planning for a booster shot to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.

    What are the risks to getting a booster shot?
    So far, reactions that were reported after getting the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot were similar to that of the 2-shot primary series. Fatigue and pain at the injection site were the most commonly side effects reported. Serious side effects were rare similarly to what was observed after doses 1 and 2. 

    Am I still considered “fully vaccinated” if I don’t get a booster shot? 
    Everyone is still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-shot series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the J&J/Janssen vaccine.

    How do I get booster shot?
    If you are eligible for a booster shot, you can find a vaccine provider by visiting vaccines.gov, or you can text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233. Be sure to bring your vaccination card with you so the booster dose and date can be added. If you have lost your vaccination card, contact the vaccine provider where you got your first 2 doses or contact your state health department. Booster doses are free to receive similarly to the first 2 doses. 

    Will people who received Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine need a booster shot?
    It is likely that people who received a J&J COVID-19 vaccine will need a booster dose. Because the J&J vaccine wasn’t given in the United States until 70 days after the first mRNA vaccine doses (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna), the data needed to make this decision isn’t available yet. We expect more data to come in the next few weeks. With those data in hand, we will keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J booster shots as well.

    Can people who received Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine get a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine?
    There’s not enough data currently to support getting an mRNA vaccine booster dose (either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) if someone has gotten a J&J vaccine. People who took the J&J vaccine will likely need a booster dose, and more data is expected in the next few weeks. With those data in hand, we will keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J booster shots as well.

    What’s the difference between a booster shot and an additional dose?
    An “additional dose” refers to people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised receiving an additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna). This is because they may not have received adequate protection from their initial 2-dose vaccine series.

    A “booster dose” is a supplemental vaccine dose given to people when the immune response to a primary vaccine series was adequate but is likely to have decreased over time. Learn more