COVID-19 Booster Shots: Top Questions Answered

Sept. 24, 2021 — The FDA and the CDC this week introduced that sure teams of individuals at excessive threat for critical COVID-19 an infection can now get a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

You and your family and friends might have questions: Am I eligible? Where do I’m going to get a booster? Do I’ve to indicate proof of being high-risk? Am I nonetheless absolutely vaccinated if I’m eligible for a booster and don’t obtain one?

We break down the commonest questions in regards to the up to date Pfizer booster tips.

What are boosters?

A booster is an additional dose of vaccine to present you extra safety in opposition to a illness; on this case, COVID-19.

“Basically, boosters are exactly what the word says,” in line with Anita Gupta, DO, an adjunct assistant professor of anesthesiology and demanding care medication and ache medication on the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“Boosters allow people to have an increased immune response.”

The additional dose of vaccine is particularly vital for the aged and other people with weakened immune programs from situations like most cancers, diabetes, or weight problems, resulting from new variants being found, says Gupta.

“There’s a risk that the immune response from the two-dose vaccine sequence will not be sufficient, particularly in people who could be significantly susceptible.

“So, the goal is really to help those individuals if they potentially were faced with new variants and to ensure that they don’t have any poor immune response if they’re faced with it.”

Who is eligible for the Pfizer booster?

Certain teams of people that have been absolutely vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine for six months or longer can now obtain a single Pfizer booster dose, according to up to date FDA emergency use authorization tips.

You can’t obtain the Pfizer booster if you happen to acquired different COVID-19 vaccines, like Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

You can get a Pfizer booster if you happen to acquired the Pfizer vaccine and are part of considered one of these teams:

  1. 65 years outdated or older
  2. 18 years outdated or older and at excessive threat for extreme COVID-19
  3. If you’re employed or stay in a scenario that places you at excessive threat for extreme COVID-19. For instance, well being care employees, lecturers, and other people in prisons and homeless shelters.

Go here to see if you happen to or somebody you recognize is at excessive threat for extreme COVID-19.

When can I count on to obtain a Pfizer booster if I acquired one other COVID-19 vaccine, like Moderna or Johnson & Johnson?

The actual date is unknown, nevertheless it shouldn’t take too lengthy, given Moderna just lately submitted knowledge to the FDA, and Johnson & Johnson will likely be following go well with very shortly.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, MD, on Friday stated getting boosters accredited for everybody, together with those that initially bought the Moderna or J&J vaccine, is a “high, high priority.”

William Schaffner, MD, a professor of preventive medication and infectious ailments at Vanderbilt University, agrees it ought to occur quickly.

“I would hope that within the next month to 6 weeks, we will get information about both of those vaccines,” he says. “It will be one right after the other. Each one dealt with separately.”

“I know it leads to a certain amount of confusion, but that’s the way you have to do it because all the data were not assembled at exactly the same time.”

Just the truth that Pfizer boosters are actually obtainable to sure high-risk teams is a giant signal that boosters for different COVID-19 vaccines aren’t far behind, says Eric Ascher, DO, a household medication doctor at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“To me, that is a strong indicator that they will be made available to the rest of the population soon,” he says.

Where do I’m going get my Pfizer booster and the way a lot will it value?

You can get your booster shot at pharmacies, your physician’s workplace, well being departments, occupational clinics, and federal packages, according to the CDC.

“Over 70% of current COVID-19 administration” happens in pharmacies, the CDC states.

Boosters for all COVID-19 vaccines are utterly free.

“All COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses, will be provided free of charge to the U.S. population,” the CDC said Thursday.

Do I want to indicate proof of getting acquired the Pfizer vaccine earlier than getting a Pfizer booster?

The quick reply might be not. But to your security, it’s vital to observe FDA tips and solely get a Pfizer booster if you happen to acquired the Pfizer vaccine, Schaffner says.

“That has already opened the door to people who have not been vaccinated with Pfizer who are very eager to get a booster, to go ahead and get a booster. That’s not recommended,” he says.

“We always caution people that, while this is unlikely, should you experience an adverse event, if you’re doing it outside the set recommendation, your insurance won’t cover it.”

Do now we have to indicate proof of being excessive threat resulting from an underlying medical situation or that we stay or work in a spot that places us at excessive threat for extreme COVID-19, or that we’re older than 65?


It will work on the dignity system, Schaffner says. “In different phrases, you present up and say you’re eligible, you gained’t be quizzed about it, and the placement, whether or not it’s a pharmacy or vaccination web site, provides you with the booster.

“This is the same procedure we already have in place for people who are immunocompromised. All they have to do is show up and say, ‘I’m in an immunocompromised group,’ and they get the third dose.”

Are boosters a full dose or half dose of the Pfizer vaccine?

A Pfizer booster is one full dose of Pfizer vaccine, in line with the FDA.

But this will not be the identical for different COVID-19 vaccine boosters.

“For example, the FDA is considering whether to authorize a lower dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster than the dose given in the first two shots,” Gupta says.

But you shouldn’t be too hung up on the dose of your booster shot.

“This is based on the makeup of the vaccine and does not change the level of protection,” Ascher says.

If I’m absolutely vaccinated however haven’t acquired a booster, am I nonetheless thought of absolutely vaccinated?


“Based on current data, the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ would remain the same after recommendations for booster dose,” the CDC says.

An individual is taken into account absolutely vaccinated 2 weeks after they full their preliminary vaccination sequence, like two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

When it involves people who find themselves immunocompromised, it may be a bit extra difficult, says Gupta.

“For readability’s sake, in case you are immunocompromised, we’ll name your third shot a 3rd dose. Third doses for immunocompromised individuals are obtainable now. If you’re not immunocompromised, a 3rd shot is taken into account a booster.

“According to the CDC, those with moderately to severely compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 and may not build the same level of immunity to two-dose vaccine series, compared to people who are not immunocompromised. This additional dose intends to improve immunocompromised people’s response to their initial vaccine series.”

Is this going to be an annual booster, like flu vaccines?

“We don’t know that yet,” Schaffner says. “We would anticipate that these boosters, as a result of they actually increase and improve your antibody ranges to a really excessive degree, would supply fairly extended safety. How lengthy? Well, we’ll should see.

“Remember, we’re learning about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccinations as we go along, so we can’t predict at the moment whether this will be an annual booster, or every 2 years, or every 3 years. We’ll just have to see.”

Should I count on the identical uncomfortable side effects that I skilled after I acquired my preliminary doses of COVID-19 vaccine?

You might expertise related uncomfortable side effects, like arm soreness, delicate flu, physique aches, and different widespread signs, according to the CDC.

But it’s vital to do not forget that everybody reacts in a different way to vaccines, says Ascher.

“I have had patients (as well as personal experience) where there were none to minimal symptoms, and others who felt they had a mild flu for 24 hours,” he says.

“I expect no side effects greater than what was felt with your prior doses. The vaccine is very safe, and the benefit of vaccination outweighs the risks of any mild side effects.”

If you’d like extra data, you’ll be able to take a look at the CDC and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services web sites for updates on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. You may also attain out to your physician or different well being care suppliers to study extra.

WebMD Health News


Anita Gupta, DO, adjunct assistant professor of anesthesiology and demanding care medication and ache medication, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 

Eric Ascher, MD, Family Medicine Physician, Lenox Hill Hospital. 

William Schaffner, MD, professor of preventive medication and infectious ailments, Vanderbilt University.



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