Who Can Get the Booster Shot for COVID-19
Learn who can get the booster shot for COVID-19, whether you can mix and match brands, and why COVID-19 booster shots are needed

According to the CDC, you are eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot if you are:

  • 16 years old or older and have received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least 6 months ago (this is the only vaccine and booster authorized for individuals between ages 16-17).
  • 18 years old or older and received both  doses of the Moderna vaccine at least 6 months ago.
  • 18 years old or older and received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least 2 months ago.

Individuals with a medical condition or immunosuppressive conditions are eligible to receive the additional dose (third dose in the primary m-RNA vaccine series) and the booster vaccine dose.

What is the COVID-19 vaccine booster?

The COVID-19 booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine administered after the optimum protection provided by the original vaccine dose or doses has begun to decrease over time. 

Generally, you would get a booster shot after the immunity from the initial dose or doses naturally starts to decline. The booster is necessary to prolong immunity to fight the disease.

Can you choose a different COVID-19 vaccine for your booster shot?

The FDA has authorized three vaccine boosters: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson. 

The FDA has found that it is safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose that is of a different brand than the initial dose or doses for people who are 18 years or older. For people aged 16-18, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is recommended.

If you get the Moderna booster shot, you will receive half of the original Moderna dose.

Why is a booster shot needed?

Studies suggest that after COVID-19 vaccination, there is a gradual decline in protection against the virus and the ability to prevent infection with COVID-19 variants.

Although COVID-19 vaccination remains fairly effective in preventing severe disease, recent data suggests a decline in effectiveness (especially in people aged 65 years and older) in preventing infection or mildly symptomatic disease.

Recent evidence has also shown that vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infection is decreasing over time among healthcare and other frontline workers. This decline in effectiveness is likely to be due to the timespan since the date of the completed vaccination and the increased infectiousness of new variants.

The recent emergence of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and continued preventive behavioral measures to protect against COVID-19. Early data from South Africa suggests increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant and the potential to escape protection acquired by a COVID-19 vaccine.

Clinical trials have found that a booster dose increased the immune response in trial participants who were fully vaccinated with a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna primary series 6 months earlier or with a J&J/Janssen single-dose vaccine 2 months earlier. With an increased immune response, improved protection against getting infected with COVID-19, including the Delta variant, should be seen. 

COVID-19 vaccines are working well?to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death even against the Delta variant. However, reduced protection, especially among certain populations, against mild and moderate disease is being observed by public health experts and healthcare providers.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/30/2021
References
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html