Over 186 million Americans have been fully vaccinated as of October 7, 2021. Now what? In August, the government announced booster shots would be available starting on September 20th. Here's what we know about booster shots up to this point:
Who is eligible for a booster shot?
Covid-19 booster shots are only available for a limited group. You must have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and six months must have passed since your initial series (which is the completion of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine with a two-week set in period after the second dose). And you must be in one of the following demographics:
65 years or older.
18 years or older and live in long-term care settings, have underlying medical conditions, or work or live in high-risk settings.
What vaccine will I be receiving as a booster?
Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved as a booster shot. So, if you fall under booster shot eligibility and choose to get it, you will be receiving another (third) dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
What about individuals who got the Moderna or J&J vaccine initially?
If your initial series was of the Moderna or J&J vaccine, you are not yet eligible for a booster shot. More data on the effectiveness and safety of a booster shot of these vaccines is expected soon.
Booster shot versus additional dose
Additional doses are different than a booster. Additional doses (beyond the one or two doses required based on your vaccine) were recommended to those with moderately or severely compromised immune systems. Additional doses could be administered 28 days after the initial series was completed for an immunocompromised individual. Booster shots have wider eligibility and are administered six months after the initial series.
Are you still "fully vaccinated" if you opt not to get a booster shot?
Yes. Booster shots are completely optional. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after you've received all necessary doses of your vaccination.
Should I bring my vaccination record card to my booster shot appointment?
Yes. Your booster shots will be added to the information on your original vaccination record card. You will want to safely store the original copy. We recommend uploading your vaccination record to our patient portal so you can access it from anywhere at any time without worrying about misplacing your original copy.
Why are there booster shots?
Studies show that protection against the virus from the vaccine may decrease over time. In the groups eligible for the booster, the effectiveness of the vaccine is lower due to time passed since the initial series and greater likelihood of getting infected due to comprised immunity or high-risk settings.
We expect more information to be released over the next few months about booster shots, including eligibility updates and data about the safety and effectiveness of Moderna and J&J as a booster shot.