What is a COVID-19 booster and do I need it?

You may have heard that booster shots have been recommended for some people who received the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Booster shots are given when the protection from a vaccination begins to decrease. Getting a booster can help people continue their immunity for a longer period.

Booster doses have not yet been recommended for people who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That recommendation may change in October or November after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the evidence in upcoming weeks.

It’s important to know that COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant.

Booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine are to be given six months after the second shot. Here’s a list of groups who are eligible for the booster:

These groups should receive a booster dose of Pfizer:

Those vaccinated with Pfizer who are 18 through 64 years may get the booster if they:

  • Have underlying medical conditions, and
  • Are at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission due to occupational or institutional setting.

The difference between a booster and a third dose

A third dose is specifically for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and applies to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Some people who are immunocompromised may not have built up an adequate protective immune response with their first series of vaccinations. A third dose of the same mRNA vaccine – Pfizer or Moderna – at least 28 days after receiving the second dose in the series is recommended to complete the original series.

Where can I get a booster?

You can find booster shots at pharmacies, doctor’s offices and clinics, and anywhere else that COVID-19 vaccine is available. Find a vaccine provider near you on the vaccine locator map, or call 211 or (866) 698-6155 for information and assistance in any language. You can search by vaccine type.

You don’t need to prove that you need the booster. There is enough supply of vaccine, but health care workers are extremely busy. You may need to make an appointment, or wait a while to get in for the shot. But don’t worry – your current Pfizer vaccination still offers strong protection against serious COVID-19 illness.