Learn More About COVID-19 Booster doses

Last updated: November 22, 2021 - 2:59pm

The COVID-19 vaccine is now authorized for people 5 years of age and older. Youth ages 5 to 17 may get only the Pfizer vaccine and require parental consent.

COVID-19 vaccination is one of the most important tools to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vaccines protect you by:

  • Reducing your chance of getting COVID-19
  • Reducing your chance of getting seriously ill
  • Reducing your chance of hospitalization or death from COVID-19
  • Making it harder for the disease to spread to others

Vaccination offers excellent protection against severe COVID-19, but it is not 100% effective. Some people, especially those Individuals with weaker immune systems, may not respond to vaccinations fully and may still become infected with COVID-19. There is also increasing evidence that fully vaccinated individuals infected with the Delta variant could still spread the disease unknowingly.

Full vaccination is recommended for everyone even if you’ve already had COVID-19. This recommendation is because research has not yet shown how long you are protected from getting COVID-19 again, and vaccination helps protect you even if you’ve already had COVID-19.

If more people vaccinate, we build a more effective barrier against the virus that helps protect our most vulnerable and ourselves. Masking and physical distancing are still very important and offer another layer of protection against Delta and other variants. For those postponing vaccination, or choosing not to vaccinate, we ask that you consult with your healthcare provider to weigh your options.

Vaccine Brand NameWho Can Get this VaccineHow Many Shots You Will NeedWhen Are you Fully Vaccinated?When Can I get a booster?
Pfizer-BioNTechPeople 5 years and older2 shots
Given 3 weeks (21 days) apart
2 weeks after your second shot

People 18 years and older: at least 6 months after your completed series.

If you are immunocompromised, you can get a third dose at least 28 days after completing the series.

ModernaPeople 18 years and older2 shots
Given 4 weeks (28 days) apart
2 weeks after your second shotPeople 18 years and older: at least 6 months after your completed series.

If you are immunocompromised, you can get a third dose at least 28 days after completing the series.

Johnson & Johnson's JanssenPeople 18 years and older1 shot2 weeks after your shotPeople 18 years and older: at least 2 months after your completed series.

Vaccines teach the immune system the key features of the virus. The COVID-19 vaccine gives your body a plan to recognize the virus so it’s ready to fight it off.

When you get the vaccine, your immune system makes antibodies or “fighter cells” that stay in your blood and protect you in case you are infected with the virus. You get protection against the disease without having to get sick.

When enough people’s bodies in the community know how to fight off the virus, it has nowhere to go. This means we can stop the spread quicker and get a little closer to ending this pandemic.

Like other routine vaccines, the most common side effects are a sore arm, fatigue, headache, and muscle pain.

These symptoms are a sign that the vaccine is working. In the Pfizer and Moderna trials, these side effects occurred most often within two days of getting the vaccine and lasted about a day. Side effects were more common after the second dose than the first dose. In the Johnson & Johnson clinical trials, side effects lasted an average of one to two days.

For all three vaccines, people over 55 were less likely to report side effects than younger people.

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Scientists tested the vaccines on tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to get emergency use authorization, and they were all found to be very good at preventing people from getting sick with COVID-19.

Since then, these vaccines have been given safely to millions of people.

On August 23, 2021, the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older.

The Pfizer vaccine is still available under emergency use authorization (EUA) for those 12-15 years old, and for the administration of a third dose for certain immunocompromised individuals.

As of August 13, 2021, the CDC recommends that people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised receive an additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) at least 28 days after the completion of the initial mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series.

Immunocompromised individuals like those receiving active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs, or chemotherapeutic agents don’t always build adequate levels of protection after an initial two-dose vaccination, and they may benefit from receiving an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine to develop as much protection as possible against COVID-19. Talk to your healthcare provider to understand your needs and recommendations specific to your condition.

Who is eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot?

COVID-19 Vaccine booster shots are available for the following groups who completed their initial Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna series at least six months ago:

  • 65 years and older
  • 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • 18+ who work in high-risk settings
  • 18+ who live in high-risk setting

People ages 18 years and older who received a J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 months ago should get a booster shot. The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine has lower vaccine effectiveness over time compared to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna).

Occupations at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission include front line essential workers and health care workers as previously detailed by the CDC*

  1. First responders (healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
  2. Education staff (teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
  3. Food and agriculture workers
  4. Manufacturing workers
  5. Corrections workers
  6. U.S. Postal Service workers
  7. Public transit workers
  8. Grocery store workers

*List could be updated in the future

Choosing Your COVID-19 Booster Shot

You may choose which COVID-19 vaccine you receive as a booster shot. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

Where Can I Get a COVID-19 Booster Dose?

Check with your local pharmacy or medical provider to see if vaccination walk-ins or appointments are available.

Our Community Vaccine Clinics are also offering Pfizer booster doses to eligible individuals, no appointment necessary.

Remember to take your vaccination card or digital record with you.

If you have misplaced your card or need a copy, you can access your immunization records through MyIR or call 2-1-1 for assistance.

For more Booster Shot details visit the CDC website.