Vaccine Booster Information

What are boosters?

The first doses of COVID-19 vaccines don't provide lifelong immunity and the effectiveness of the vaccine decreases slowly over time. Boosters are similar to other vaccines such as the tetanus vaccine.

Who should get a booster dose?

Everyone age 5 and older is eligible to get a COVID-19 booster dose:

  • Moderna recipients age 18 and older should get a booster at least 5 months after second shot.
  • Pfizer recipients age 5 and older should get a booster at least 5 months after second shot.
  • Johnson & Johnson recipients age 18 and older should get a Pfizer or Moderna booster at least 2 months after initial shot.

Who should get a 2nd booster dose?

On March 29 2022, the FDA has authorized a 2nd booster dose of either the Pfizer or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for individuals 50 years and older and certain immunocompromised individuals.

  • A second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine may be administered to individuals 50 years of age and older at least 4 months after receipt of a first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine.
  • A second booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine may be administered to certain immunocompromised individuals 12 years of age and older at least 4 months after receipt of a first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine.
  • A second booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine may be administered to certain immunocompromised individuals 18 years of age and older at least 4 months after the first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine.
  • In addition, adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago may now receive a second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Why will some people get a second booster dose?

Older adults—especially those with underlying medical conditions—and people with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of severe health impacts if infected by COVID-19, and are therefore among those most likely to benefit from the additional protection of a second booster shot. Individuals in these groups should consult with their health provider if they have questions about getting a second booster.

Booster doses are common for many vaccines. The scientists and medical experts who developed the COVID-19 vaccines will continue to watch for signs of waning immunity, how well the vaccines protect against new mutations of the virus, and how that data differ across age groups and risk factors. To date, booster doses have been effective in boosting immunity against new variants of COVID-19 and extending protection of the vaccine against serious illness.

If we need a booster dose, does that mean that the vaccines aren't working?

COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, but the latest data show that booster doses significantly increase protection against the Omicron variant. The latest CDC recommendations on booster doses help to ensure more people across the U.S. are better protected against COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and boosted if eligible—particularly for groups that are more at risk for severe COVID-19, such as older people and those with underlying medical conditions.

What's the difference between an "additional dose" for immunocompromised people and a "booster dose"?

A booster dose is given after a complete vaccine series to provide additional protection against a vaccine’s effectiveness has decreased over time, while an additional dose is given to people with compromised immune systems to improve their response to the initial vaccine series.

People with compromised immune systems may have a reduced ability to respond to vaccines, and having a weakened immune system can increase the risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19. The CDC recommends that immunocompromised people who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine get an additional dose at least 28 days after their second shot. Data show that an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines helps to increase protection for this group.

Patients who are immunocompromised should consult with their health care provider to discuss additional precautions and any questions they have about protecting themselves from COVID-19.