Nov. 23, 2021—Now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have OK'd the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 booster shots for everyone 18 and up, you may be asking: When can I get an extra vaccine dose? And do I need one?
COVID-19 booster shots were already authorized for some groups, including adults 65 and older and others at high risk, and adults who received a Johnson & Johnson shot two months earlier.
Now, any adult can get a COVID-19 booster if it has been:
- Six months since their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
- Two months since they received one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Why booster shots are important
Here are some key reasons you should get a booster shot:
You may need the extra protection. The COVID-19 vaccine you may already have received is still working to protect you. But that protection can weaken over time, according to CDC. You may not have as much immunity as you did months ago. An extra dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can boost your immune response to the coronavirus, an FDA analysis showed.
Booster shots may help keep people safe during the holidays. COVID-19 cases have been on the rise in some areas. Experts say we may be headed for a winter surge as people gather indoors. If more booster shots get into arms in the weeks ahead, they may help protect people as travel increases.
Booster shots are safe. The shots use the same vaccines that millions of Americans have already received, although the Moderna booster shot is half the dose of the original vaccine. Many people have no side effects at all. If they do occur, they typically are mild. Common side effects include a sore arm, fever, headache and fatigue. Swollen lymph nodes are more common after a booster shot than after the original set of vaccines. Serious reactions are rare.
Boosters are free and easy to get. It won't cost you anything to get a COVID-19 booster shot. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how to get one. Or call the local health department. You might even be able to get a walk-in appointment.
Which shot should you choose?
You don't need to stick with the same brand as your first COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about the possible benefits of mixing and matching.