What do I need to know about COVID-19 vaccine boosters?
COVID-19 vaccine boosters are recommended for all eligible groups. A “booster dose” refers to another dose of a vaccine that is given to someone who built enough protection after vaccination, but then that protection decreased over time (this is called waning immunity).
COVID-19 boosters at a glance
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, including all primary series doses and boosters for their age group:
Ages 6 months through 4 years should get all COVID-19 primary series doses
Ages 5 years and older should get all primary series doses and updated COVID-19 boosters
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection against COVID-19.
People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have updated recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters.
Learn more about vaccine boosters
All people ages 5 years and older should receive a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which should be administered at least two months after the last dose you received (your last booster or after the final dose in your primary vaccination series).
Note: Individuals—particularly adolescent or young adult males—might consider waiting four weeks after receiving a orthopoxvirus vaccination (either JYNNEOS or ACAM2000) before receiving a Moderna, Novavax, or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
This is because of the observed risk for myocarditis and/or pericarditis after receiving the ACAM2000 orthopoxvirus vaccine and mRNA (i.e., Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech) and Novavax COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the unknown risk for myocarditis and/or pericarditis after receiving the JYNNEOS vaccine.
You can view the date of your last COVID-19 vaccination on your COVID-19 vaccine card, which should also list the type of vaccine you received.
If you received your initial dose(s) of the COVID-19 vaccine through UI Health Care and have a MyChart account, you can find your vaccination information in the COVID-19 menu item under the “My Record” heading.
Yes, though you should review the details below to determine your eligibility based on the vaccine you received as part of your primary vaccination series:
The CDC does not recommend mixing vaccines for your primary series doses.
People ages 18 years and older may get a different vaccine for a booster than they got for their primary series, as long as it’s Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
People ages 5-17 years may get a different product for a booster than they got for their primary series, as long as it’s Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (depending on age eligibility).
Novavax is not authorized for use as a booster dose at this time.
The COVID-19 vaccines are working very well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death. A booster dose will help strengthen protection against severe disease in those populations who are at high risk for exposure to COVID-19 or complications from severe disease.
Yes, if a patient is eligible, both flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same visit. In addition to flu vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines as well.
You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing a two dose mRNA vaccine series (like the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines), two weeks after the two dose Novavax vaccine series, or two weeks after the one dose Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.
You are considered up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines when you have received all doses in the primary series and all boosters recommended for you, when eligible.
If you have completed your primary series—but are not yet eligible for a booster—you are also considered up to date.
The COVID-19 vaccines are working very well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death. As different variants of COVID-19 emerge, booster doses will help strengthen protection against severe disease in those populations who are at high-risk for exposure to COVID-19 or the complications from severe disease.
Yes. It’s not guaranteed that your immune response from a COVID-19 infection will be protective against a new infection. A booster dose will further help to protect you against COVID-19 and is recommended even if you have already contracted the virus.
Yes, it is recommended you receive a COVID-19 booster even if you’ve already had and recovered from COVID-19.
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection against COVID-19. You may consider delaying your vaccine by three months from when your symptoms started or, if you had no symptoms, when you received a positive test.
People who already had COVID-19 and do not get vaccinated after their recovery are more likely to get COVID-19 again than those who get vaccinated after their recovery.
COVID-19 vaccination can be given at any interval following receipt of passive antibody therapy.
Sometimes people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised do not build enough protection when they first get a vaccination. When this happens, getting another dose of the vaccine can sometimes help them build more protection against the disease. This appears to be the case for some immunocompromised people and COVID-19 vaccines. In these cases, the additional dose is considered part of their original COVID-19 vaccination series. Certain immunocompromised individuals require three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines as their primary series instead of the two doses required by the general population. Similarly, certain immunocompromised individuals require two doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine as their primary series instead of the one dose required by the general population.
In contrast, a “booster dose” refers to another dose of a vaccine given to someone who built enough protection after their primary COVID-19 vaccination series. Over time, immunity provided by the vaccines starts to decrease—something known as “waning immunity.” Booster doses are administered to re-strengthen immunity against the COVID-19 virus.
There are currently four vaccines for COVID-19:
The Pfizer-BioNTech (Comiranty) vaccine is fully approved for standard use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for individuals 16 and older and authorized for emergency use for those aged 6 months-15 years.
The Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine is fully approved for standard use for individuals 18 years and older and authorized for emergency use for those aged 6 months-17 years.
The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is authorized for emergency use in individuals 18 years and older.
The Novavax vaccine is authorized for emergency use in individuals 18 years and older.
All of these vaccines are very effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalization.
A monovalent COVID-19 mRNA booster only protects against the original strain of COVID-19. Bivalent COVID-19 mRNA boosters are updated boosters that include protection against both the original strain of COVID-19, as well as the omicron variants.
Watch Pat Winokur, MD, executive dean for the Carver College of Medicine and principal investigator for UI Health Care’s Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial, explain what an mRNA vaccine (like Moderna [Spikevax] or Pfizer-BioNTech [Comiranty]) is and how it protects your body against the coronavirus.
No, none of the COVID-19 vaccines actually contain the virus, so they can’t give you COVID-19.
All of the vaccines are safe and effective.
No. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comiranty) and the Moderna [Spikevax] vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. They do not insert themselves in the genome, which is made of DNA.
Although the speed of the COVID-19 vaccine development has been faster than typical, COVID-19 vaccines are still required to go through the proper testing and analysis to make sure they are safe—no step in the process has been skipped. However, the federal government funded advance production of some of the more promising vaccines so at least a limited supply became available quickly after Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.