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CDC Recommends Additional Boosters for Certain Individuals


Do I need a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

Yes. The protection COVID-19 vaccines provide decreases over time, especially for certain groups of people.

  • Recent data suggest their effectiveness at preventing infection or severe illness wanes over time, especially in people ages 65 years and older.

The emergence of the variants further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19.

CDC recommends everyone ages 12 and older gets a booster for the best protection against COVID-19.

  • Data show that an mRNA booster increases the immune response, which improves protection against getting a serious COVID-19 infection.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine recommendations, including recommendations for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.

If we need a booster, are the vaccines working?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death. However, public health experts see reduced protection over time against mild and moderate diseases, especially among certain populations.

Do boosters use the same ingredients as existing vaccines?

Yes. COVID-19 boosters are the same ingredients (formulation) as the current COVID-19 vaccines. However, in the case of a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster, the dose is half of the amount of the vaccine people get for their primary series.

What are the risks to getting a booster?

Adults and children may have some side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine, including pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. Serious side effects are rare but may occur.

Am I still considered “fully vaccinated” if I don’t get a booster?

Yes, the definition of fully vaccinated has not changed and does not include a booster. Everyone is still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after the single-dose J&J/Janssen vaccine. Fully vaccinated, however, is not the same as having the best protection.  People are best protected when they stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations, which includes getting boosters when eligible.

Does the definition of “up to date” include a booster?

It depends.  Everyone ages 12 years and older is considered up to date until the time they are eligible for their first booster — which is 5 months after the second dose for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, or two months after the J&J/Janssen vaccine. After this time period, they need to get 1 booster to be considered up to date. Getting a second booster is not necessary to be considered up to date at this time. Learn more about COVID-19 booster recommendations.

If I have received a J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine and a J&J/Janssen COVID-19 booster, are additional boosters recommended?

People (except those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised) who first received a J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine and got it again for their booster may also receive a booster of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna). Get the mRNA booster at least 4 months after the most recent J&J/Janssen booster.

  • One CDC study found that adults who received the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine as both their primary and booster had lower levels of protection against COVID-19-associated emergency department and urgent care visits during Omicron compared to adults who received an mRNA COVID-19 booster.