COVID-19 Q&A: An update on vaccine booster doses

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have approved and recommended booster doses for Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccines for certain people.

Who is at highest risk of having breakthrough infections, even if they are fully immunized?

Seniors 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems caused by certain health conditions or treatments (including organ transplants, HIV, and some cancers and chemotherapy) are more likely to have breakthrough infections. These groups are strongly recommended to get a booster dose when they are eligible.

Who is now eligible for a booster dose?

Booster doses are available for these groups at least six months after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

  • People who should get a booster dose: 65 and older; 18+ living in long-term care facilities; 50+ with underlying health conditions, or disabilities.
  • People who may get a booster dose: 18+ who have underlying health conditions, disabilities; 18+ who live or work in high-risk settings. 

Adults 18 or older who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine two or more months ago also are recommended to get a booster dose.

Is it OK to get a different vaccine as a booster than you received at first?

Eligible people may choose which vaccine they get as a booster dose. Some people may prefer the vaccine type they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for mix-and-match dosing for booster shots.

Are you still considered fully vaccinated even if you have not received a booster shot?

Yes. Everyone is still considered fully vaccinated for purposes of travel or other vaccine requirements two weeks after their second dose in a two-shot series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the J&J/Janssen vaccine.

When will booster doses be available for everyone?

Additional groups may be recommended to receive a booster shot as we learn more. The COVID-19 vaccines approved and authorized in the United States continue to be effective at reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Experts are looking at all available data to understand how well the vaccines are working for different groups. This includes looking at how new variants, like Delta, affect how much protection the vaccines provide.

Where are booster doses available?

Boosters are available at pharmacies, clinics, and healthcare providers statewide. They are not available to the public at hospitals. Use the Vaccine Finder to find locations, the vaccine brands available, and walk-in or appointment details. It is not required to prove eligibility or to have a prescription to get a booster. There are no out-of-pocket costs for the COVID-19 vaccine or booster.

The CDC’s final recommendations for boosters are available at https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p1021-covid-booster.html

Stay up to date with the latest and most accurate information on COVID-19 at these websites:

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The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov. 

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