Updated March 31, 2022.
Clinical Editor: William Kimbrough, MD
The CDC is now recommending a booster, or third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and a second dose after receiving the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s what you should know:
Who is eligible for the COVID-19 booster shot?
Those who are 12 years and older who received a Pfizer/BioNTech are eligible for a booster shot five months or more after their second dose. Booster shots are also recommended for anyone 18 years and older who either received the Moderna vaccine at least six months ago, or received the J&J vaccine two or more months ago.
An additional second booster has also been authorized by the FDA for adults 50 years and older and those who are immunocompromised who received their first booster four or more months ago. Guidance from the CDC on who is recommended to get a second booster vaccine is still pending, but expected to be issued very soon.
Does my booster shot need to be the same type of vaccine as my first and second dose?
Not anymore. The CDC has approved a “mix and match” strategy, meaning that individuals who are eligible for a booster shot can receive any of the three COVID-19 vaccines, regardless of which they received for their first and second doses. This means that if you originally received the Pfizer vaccine, you may choose to have a third Pfizer dose, or receive the Moderna or J&J vaccine as your booster. While the agency is leaving this decision up to individual preference, it is recommending the Pfizer/BioTech and Moderna vaccines over the J&J shot, as the J&J vaccine has been associated with an increased but still rare risk of a blood clotting condition. If you are unable to receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, however, you will still be able to receive a J&J vaccine.
What are the side effects of the booster vaccines?
At this time, side effects reported after the booster vaccines have been similar to those experienced with the original series. According to the CDC, fatigue and pain around the injection have been the most commonly reported side effects, while most side effects have been mild to moderate. Severe side effects have been reported to be very rare with these current COVID-19 vaccines, but may occur.
How can I get a shot if I qualify for a booster shot?
We are now offering COVID-19 boosters vaccines for eligible members in most of our offices. To book an appointment, select “COVID-19 Booster Vaccine” under “COVID-19 Care”. Please note that supply varies by location, so not all offices will have all three vaccine types available. If you don’t see any appointments, please continue to check the app regularly as new slots will be added as supply allows. You can also check with local pharmacies and your county’s department of public health for booster shot appointments in your area.
I am immunocompromised. How long after my second dose can I receive the third?
For those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised who have received two doses of an mRNA vaccine (i.e. Pfizer or Moderna), the FDA and CDC recommend a third dose of the same vaccine 28 days or more after the second.
Am I still considered “fully vaccinated” if I don’t get a booster shot?
Yes. The CDC still considers individuals as “fully vaccinated” when two weeks have passed since they received the second dose of their Moderna or Pfizer series or the single-dose J& J vaccine.
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