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Should You Get a COVID-19 Booster?

Published on Jan. 07, 2022

COVID-19 third doses and/or booster shots have been authorized for all three COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson) by the FDA and CDC. But do you need a COVID-19 booster? If so, when? Should you stick to your original vaccine brand? We answer all your questions and more below.


Initial Dose VS Booster: What’s the Difference?

The initial COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine series teaches your immune system to build a line of defense against COVID-19 so your body can fight off illness – in particular, extreme symptoms that could lead to hospitalization. A booster shot is an extra dose that can give you additional protection against COVID-19 and its variants, like the Delta variant.


Are the booster shots different in any way?

The COVID-19 boosters are the same formulation as the original vaccines, with one exception: Moderna’s COVID-19 booster vaccine is a half-dose shot.


Who Should Get a Booster?

woman getting booster shot with mask onNo vaccine is 100 percent effective – though data continues to show that getting your initial series of the COVID-19 vaccine can keep you from becoming severely ill should you get COVID-19. But for some people, the risk of experiencing more extreme symptoms and complications is far greater, and a booster dose can provide extra protection.

Even if you don’t have certain risk factors, a booster can keep your immune system responding strongly to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, since vaccine effectiveness can eventually diminish. This decreased protection is believed to be a combination of both passing time and the highly contagious Delta variant. Whether and when you should get a booster depends largely on age and which vaccine you originally received:

Jannsen (Johnson & Johnson) Vaccine Recipients

If you initially received the one-dose-only Johnson & Johnson Vaccine, the CDC strongly recommends a second booster shot if you meet the following criteria:

  • It's been two months or more since your vaccine AND
  • You’re 18 years+

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine recipients

man getting booster shot with mask on

If it's been five months or more since your initial Pfizer series, you may be eligible to receive a booster shot. At this time, the CDC recommends boosters for the following individuals:

  • It's been five months or more since your vaccine AND
  • You’re 12 years+

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine recipients

If it's been five months or more since your initial Moderna series, you may be eligible to receive a booster shot. Currently, the CDC recommends boosters for the following individuals:

  • It's been five months or more since your vaccine AND
  • You’re 18 years+

When should I get a COVID-19 booster vaccine?

If your initial vaccine was Johnson & Johnson: As early as 2 months following your first vaccine.

If your initial vaccine was Pfizer: 5 months after your initial vaccine series if you fall into an eligible category above.

If your initial vaccine was Moderna: 5 months after your initial vaccine series if you fall into an eligible category above.


What if I currently have – or have had – COVID-19?

If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, get tested for COVID-19 before getting a booster. If you test positive for COVID-19, the CDC advises postponing your booster shot until your symptoms have fully cleared.

Once your symptoms have fully resolved, you can schedule your booster shot if you meet the eligible requirements above.

Is the booster effective against the variants, like Delta and Omicron?

Initial findings show that like Delta, Omicron is a very contagious strain. At this time, it appears that the mutations in the Omicron variant are protected by the currently available vaccines. Therefore, we recommend not prolonging your booster shot to wait for a potential new booster. The available COVID-19 vaccines (especially if you get a booster) are effective at preventing serious illness that can lead to hospitalization or death.


I've heard you can "mix & match" vaccines for your booster shot. Is this recommended?

The FDA recently authorized heterologous (aka mix and match) booster vaccines, meaning if you are 18 or older, you can get any vaccine as your booster/third dose shot, regardless of your original vaccine brand. Whether or not you stick to your original vaccine type or prefer to get a different booster is an individual choice. Please note: mix and match vaccines are authorized only for booster/third dose shots (not for your original vaccine dose).

Kids ages 12-17 are eligible only for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster at this time.


If I don’t get a booster shot, am I still considered fully vaccinated?

Yes, you are still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your one two-dose vaccine series.

Where & How to Get   the COVID-19 Vaccine

Questions? Ask a Nurse!

munson healthcare nurse with headset taking callsDo you still have questions about the COVID-19 third shot or booster? A Munson Healthcare nurse is standing by and ready to help. Call Ask-A-Nurse anytime daily between 7 am – 11 pm to speak with a registered nurse. This service is FREE and no insurance is required.

Ask-A-Nurse   231-935-0951

Did you get your flu shot? Here's why you should…

Flu season may not be as mild as last year. Don't risk a 'twindemic.' Get your flu shot, which is safe to do on the same day as your COVID-19 booster. Learn more about COVID-19 vs the flu here.


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