COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots
What You Need to Know
As with vaccines for other diseases, people are best protected against infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 when they stay up to date with vaccinations.
COVID-19 vaccines continue to protect people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and even dying—especially people who have received a booster.
CDC recommends everyone ages 12 years and older receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series. Some people can receive two boosters.
People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have specific COVID-19 vaccine recommendations, including recommendations for a booster. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.
Choosing Your COVID-19 Booster
Three COVID-19 vaccines are authorized or approved for use in the United States to prevent COVID-19. Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (COVID-19 mRNA vaccines) are preferred. You may get Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in some situations.
Who Can Get a Booster
PRIMARY SERIES COVID-19 VACCINE
Who should get one booster: Everyone 12 years and older
Who can get a second booster: Adults 50 years and older
When to get your booster: At least 5 months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination series If eligible for a second booster, at least 4 months after your first booster
Which booster should you get?
Adults 18 years and older should get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) for the first booster in most* situations
The second booster must be an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine
Teens 12–17 years old may only get a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster
PRIMARY SERIES COVID-19 VACCINE
Who should get one booster: Adults 18 years and older Who can get a second booster: Adults 50 years and older When to get your booster: At least 5 months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination series If eligible for a second booster, at least 4 months after your first booster Which booster should you get? For the first booster, an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) is preferred in most* situations The second booster must be an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine
PRIMARY SERIES COVID-19 VACCINE
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen*
Who should get a booster: Adults 18 years and older
Who can get a second booster: Anyone who received a J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for both their primary dose and booster Adults 50 years and older who first received a J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of what type of booster they received
When to get a booster: At least 2 months after receiving your J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccination If eligible for a second booster, at least 4 months after your first booster
Which booster should you get? For the first booster, an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) is preferred in most* situations
The second booster must be an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine *Although mRNA vaccines are preferred for the first booster, J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine may be considered in some situations.
Scheduling Your Booster
If you need help scheduling your booster, contact the location that set up your previous appointment. If you need to get your booster in a location different from where you received your previous vaccination, there are several ways you can find a vaccine provider. Find a COVID-19 vaccine or booster: Search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.
What to Expect during and after Your Booster Shot Appointment
Bring your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card to your booster appointment so your provider can fill in the information about your booster dose. If you did not receive a card at your first appointment, contact the vaccination site where you got your first dose or your state health department to find out how you can get a card.
You may experience side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. These are normal signs that your body is building protection against COVID-19.
If you have enrolled in v-safe, enter your booster dose in your v-safe account, the system will send you daily health check-ins. You will be able to tell CDC about any side effects.
A person is considered “boosted” and up to date right after getting their first booster. Getting a second booster is not necessary to be considered up to date at this time.
If You Were Vaccinated Outside of the United States
If you completed a Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine primary series outside of the United States, you should follow the guidance above for boosters. Otherwise, if you were vaccinated abroad with other COVID-19 vaccines, you can get a booster if you are 12 years or older and you either:
Received all the recommended doses of a World Health Organization emergency use listing (WHO-EUL) COVID-19 vaccine, not approved or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Or completed a mix and match series composed of any combination of FDA-approved, FDA-authorized, or WHO-EUL COVID-19 vaccines
If you meet the above requirements, you can get a single booster of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) at least 5 months after getting all recommended doses or completing a mix and match COVID-19 vaccine series.
Data Supporting Need for a Booster
Studies show after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus and the ability to prevent infection with variants may decrease over time and due to changes in variants.
Although COVID-19 vaccines remain effective in preventing severe disease, recent data pdf [1 MB, 68 pages] suggest their effectiveness at preventing infection or severe illness wanes over time, especially in people ages 65 years and older.
The emergence of the Omicron variant further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19.
Data from clinical trials showed that an mRNA booster increased the immune response in trial participants who finished a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna primary series 6 months earlier or who received a J&J/Janssen single-dose vaccine 2 months earlier. With an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against getting a serious COVID-19 infection.
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.