Frequently Asked Questions about Booster doses

On September 1, 2022, the CDC issued new recommendations for COVID-19 boosters, after the FDA authorized updated booster formulas from both Pfizer and Moderna. The CDC recommends that everyone who is eligible stay up-to-date on vaccinations by getting an updated booster dose at least 2 months after their last COVID-19 shot—either since their last booster dose, or since completing their primary series. Pfizer’s updated booster shot is recommended for individuals 12 and older, and Moderna’s updated booster shot is recommended for adults 18 and older. 

These new boosters contain an updated bivalent formula that both boosts immunity against the original coronavirus strain and also protects against the newer Omicron variants that account for most of the current cases. Updated boosters are intended to provide optimal protection against the virus and address waning vaccine effectiveness over time.

Eligible individuals can get either the Pfizer or Moderna updated booster, regardless of whether their primary series or most recent dose was with Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

As per the CDC’s recommendations, the new bivalent booster replaces the existing monovalent vaccine booster, therefore that vaccine will no longer be authorized for use as booster doses in people age 12 and up. 

Added September 2, 2022 

Yes, the CDC recommends that everyone age 12 and up should get an updated COVID-19 booster this fall to stay up-to-date on vaccinations. The same is true for people who completed their primary series or received one or two boosters: they should get an updated booster dose at least two months after their last shot.

For maximum effectiveness of the updated booster dose, individuals who recently had COVID-19 may consider delaying any COVID-19 vaccination, including the updated booster dose, by 3 months from the start of their symptoms or positive test.

Added September 2, 2022 

No. The updated bivalent formula is in use only for COVID-19 booster doses, and not for initial vaccination. The best way to protect yourself from getting severely ill from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. The CDC recommends that currently unvaccinated people get their primary series (the initial two doses of either Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of the Novavax vaccine), and then wait at least two months to get the updated Pfizer or Moderna booster dose.

Added September 2, 2022 

As of September 1, 2022, updated Pfizer booster doses are authorized for individuals age 12 and older. The CDC continues to recommend that children age 5 and up get a booster dose at least 5 months after completing their primary series. For this younger age group (children 5-12), the original booster dose formula is still authorized for use.

As scientific experts at the FDA and CDC continue to review the data, updated Omicron-specific boosters could become available for younger children in the future.

Added September 2, 2022 

Booster doses are common for many vaccines, and over time, booster doses may need to be updated to provide optimal protection against new variants of the virus. The scientists and medical experts who developed the COVID-19 vaccines continue to watch for 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 worked well in extending the protection of the vaccine against serious illness, but have been somewhat less effective in boosting immunity against new variants of COVID-19 compared to the original strain. The updated booster dose formula is designed to protect against original strains of the virus, as well as Omicron variants that account for the majority of current new infections.

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. Vaccination and boosting is particularly important for individuals more at risk for severe COVID-19, such as older people and those with underlying medical conditions.

Updated September 2, 2022 

Yes. Eligible individuals can get either the Pfizer or Moderna updated booster, regardless of whether their primary series or most recent dose was with Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Updated September 2, 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 

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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