As COVID-19 vaccine booster shots become available, some COVID-19 vaccine recipients can get booster shots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided information on shots and eligibility.

This article compiles important information from the CDC. Visit www.cdc.gov/covid-19 for more information.

COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots

Studies show that after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus may decrease over time and provide less protection against the  coronavirus Delta variant.

Although COVID-19 vaccination for adults ages 65 years and older remains effective in preventing severe disease, recent data suggests vaccination is less effective at preventing infection or milder illness with symptoms. Emerging evidence also shows that vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infections is decreasing over time among health care and other frontline workers. This lower effectiveness is likely due to the combination of reduced protection as time passes since getting vaccinated (e.g., waning immunity) and the greater infectiousness of the Delta variant.

Data from small clinical trials show that a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished their initial series six months earlier. A similar clinical trial showed that a Johnson & Johnson (J&J) booster shot also increased the immune response in participants who

completed their single-dose vaccine at least two months earlier. With an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant.

Who Is Eligible?

At this time, COVID-19 booster shots are available for the following Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine recipients who completed their initial two-dose series at least six months ago:

In addition, COVID-19 booster shots are recommended for people who got the J&J COVID-19 vaccine, are 18 and older and were vaccinated two or more months ago.

Vaccine recipients may choose which COVID-19 vaccine they receive as a booster shot. Some people may prefer the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. Recipients are allowed for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

To find a COVID-19 booster shot near you, check your local pharmacy’s website for vaccination walk-ins or appointments, or contact your state or local health department for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you have additional questions about COVID-19 booster shots, check out these FAQs from the CDC:

When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster if I am NOT in one of the recommended groups?

Additional populations may be recommended to receive a booster shot as more data becomes available. The COVID-19 vaccines approved and authorized in the United States continue to be effective at reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death. Experts are looking at all available data to understand how well the vaccines are working for different populations. This includes looking at how new variants, like Delta, affect vaccine effectiveness.

If we need a booster shot, does that mean that the vaccines aren’t working?

No. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection, especially among certain populations, against mild and moderate disease.

What are the risks to getting a booster shot?

So far, reactions reported after getting a booster shot were similar to that of the two-shot or single-dose initial series. Fever, headache, fatigue and pain at the injection site were the most commonly reported side effects, and overall, most side effects were mild to moderate; however, as with the two-shot or single-dose initial series, serious side effects are rare, but may occur.

Am I still considered “fully vaccinated” if I don’t get a booster shot?

Yes. Everyone is still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-shot series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the J&J vaccine.

Are booster shots the same formulation as existing vaccines?

Yes. COVID-19 booster shots are the same formulation as the current COVID-19 vaccines. However, in the case of the Moderna booster, it is half the dose of the vaccine people get for their initial series.

This additional dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is intended to improve their response to their initial vaccine series.

Vaccination Record Card and Booster Shots

At your first vaccination appointment, you should have received a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it and where you received it. You should bring the vaccination card to your booster shot vaccination appointment.

If you did not receive a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card at your first appointment, contact the vaccination site where you got your first shot or your state health department to find out how you can get a card.

For More Information

If you’re struggling to find a COVID-19 vaccine near you, the CDC recommends the additional methods:

  • Search gov
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829
  • Call 1-800-232-0233

If you have additional questions about getting vaccinated, talk to your doctor or health care provider.

Source: CDC