Frequently Asked Questions about Booster doses

Everyone age 5 and older is eligible to get a COVID-19 booster dose:

  • Moderna recipients age 18 and older should get a booster at least 5 months after second shot.
  • Pfizer recipients age 5 and older should get a booster at least 5 months after second shot.
  • Johnson & Johnson recipients age 18 and older should get a Pfizer or Moderna booster at least 2 months after initial shot.

Adults age 50 and older and some immunocompromised individuals are now eligible to get a second Pfizer or Moderna booster dose at least 4 months after their first booster (whether they received a Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson booster). Older adults—especially those with underlying medical conditions—and people with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of severe COVID-19, and are among those most likely to benefit from the additional protection of a second booster shot.

The CDC recommends that people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine get the Pfizer or Moderna booster. The CDC advises people who got a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to get the same booster as their initial vaccine, but allows them to mix and match (i.e., get a different COVID-19 booster than their initial vaccine) depending on preference or availability—with the exception of children and adolescents age 5-17 who are only eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

The emergence of the Omicron variant and subvariant underscores the importance of vaccination, boosters, and preventive efforts to protect against COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines continue to be highly effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. CDC recommendations on booster doses are based on the latest data, which show that booster doses significantly increase protection from the Omicron variant, with the goal of ensuring that people have optimal protection against COVID-19 infection, severe illness, and death.

Updated May 20, 2022

On March 29, 2022, the CDC updated booster dose guidance to expand eligibility for some people to get a second vaccine booster. Adults age 50 and older and some immunocompromised individuals are now eligible to get a second Pfizer or Moderna booster dose at least 4 months after their first booster (whether they received a Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson booster). Older adults—especially those with underlying medical conditions—and people with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of severe health impacts if infected by COVID-19, and are therefore among those most likely to benefit from the additional protection of a second booster shot. Individuals in these groups should consult with their health provider if they have questions about getting a second booster.

Booster doses are common for many vaccines. The scientists and medical experts who developed the COVID-19 vaccines will continue to watch for signs of waning immunity, how well the vaccines protect against new mutations of the virus, and how that data differ across age groups and risk factors. To date, booster doses have been effective in boosting immunity against new variants of COVID-19 and extending protection of the vaccine against serious illness.

Updated March 30, 2022

COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, but the latest data show that booster doses significantly increase protection against the Omicron variant. The latest CDC recommendations on booster doses help to ensure more people across the U.S. are better protected against COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and boosted if eligible—particularly for groups that are more at risk for severe COVID-19, such as older people and those with underlying medical conditions.

Updated January 6, 2022

A booster dose is given after a complete vaccine series to provide additional protection against a vaccine’s effectiveness has decreased over time, while an additional dose is given to people with compromised immune systems to improve their response to the initial vaccine series. 

People with compromised immune systems may have a reduced ability to respond to vaccines, and having a weakened immune system can increase the risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19. The CDC recommends that immunocompromised people who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine get an additional dose at least 28 days after their second shot. Data show that an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines helps to increase protection for this group. 

Patients who are immunocompromised should consult with their health care provider to discuss additional precautions and any questions they have about protecting themselves from COVID-19.

Updated February 28, 2022

The CDC recommends that people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine get a Pfizer or Moderna booster. The CDC advises people who got a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to get the same booster as their initial vaccine, but allows them to mix and match (i.e., get a different COVID-19 booster than their initial vaccine) depending on preference or availability—with the exception of adolescents age 12-17 who are only eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

If you received the Pfizer vaccine and are 12 years of age or older, you are eligible to get a booster dose 5 months after your second shot. If you received the Moderna vaccine, you should get the booster dose 6 months after your second shot. If you received the J&J vaccine, you are eligible for a booster two months after getting the initial shot.

If you have questions about your eligibility for booster doses or which booster you should get, speak to your health care provider.

Updated January 6, 2022

Messaging Resources about Booster doses

Misinformation Alerts about Booster doses

Viral post falsely claims more vaccinated than unvaccinated people get COVID-19

A social media post with nearly 49,000 engagements falsely claims that people vaccinated against COVID-19 continue to get sick while unvaccinated people are “healthy and thriving.” While it’s true that the Omicron variant infected fully vaccinated people more than previous variants, unvaccinated people are still more susceptible to Omicron infections. Additionally, fully vaccinated people are

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