October 15, 2021
October 15, 2021
3 min. read

Questions About COVID Booster Shots? Here’s What to Know


If you’ve already received your COVID-19 vaccine, you may be wondering if it’s time for your booster shot. Are you eligible and if so, when can you get it? Read below to find out.

Am I Eligible for a Booster Shot?

Millions of people around the globe have received their COVID-19 vaccine, the administer rate of which is continually growing. Many are currently wondering when it is time to get their booster shot. The CDC and FDA have reviewed the necessity, safety, and effectiveness of boosters for the Pfizer-BioNTech brand vaccine booster shot which, as it stands, is the only booster shot currently offered. In the months to come both agencies will take the steps to review the data for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots.

booster shot covid

While the priority measure is still focused on those unvaccinated due to access or personal concern, booster shots are an important and necessary safety protocol. Those eligible for their booster shots are those 65 years or older, those at severe risk of contracting COVID-19 between the ages of 18-64, and those who face high-risk complications with COVID-19. According to the CDC, you should not receive the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot if a previous dose triggered an allergic reaction from the vaccine itself, or any ingredient of the vaccine.

booster shot

Is There a Difference Between a Booster and a Third Dose?

Not all extra vaccine doses are boosters. In August 2021, FDA approved a third vaccine dose to those who are immunocompromised. For example, this includes people receiving intensive treatments for high-risk diseases such as cancer or HIV. For patients under these conditions, while they may require three shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, this does not configure the third dose as a booster. The extra dose here is considered part of their immunization process.

A third dose is also authorized to individuals who have undergone solid organ transplantations, or those who are diagnosed with conditions considered to have a risk level equivalent to those immunocompromised. Like the second dose that is necessary for the Pfizer and Moderna brand vaccines, the third dose also has a waiting period, only being administered at least 28 days following the second shot.

When Should I Get My Booster Shot?

The COVID-19 booster shot should be administered no sooner than necessary; but at the same time, the booster should be taken well before immunity from the coronavirus declines. What does this mean for you? According to the CDCand the FDA, a booster shot is advised at least six months after the second dose has been received.

More specifically, they advise that a booster is recommended primarily to those 65 years or older, those at high risk of severe illness from COVID, such as people with cancer, lung disease, or diabetes. It is also recommended to those who often risk high exposure in their work or home lives: healthcare workers, service industry employees, and the like.

While one should wait for the appropriate time to receive their booster, getting it too soon runs its own risks. For one, receiving the booster too soon is not guaranteed to cover future variants of the coronavirus. If new variants were to emerge, a booster if administered after enough time would be modified to cover new strains of the coronavirus. While it would help your protection against a current strain, waiting the appropriate time may garner a greater immunization response, too. “If you allow the immunization response to mature,” notes Dr. Anthony Fauci, you may “get much more bang out of the shot.” In other words, the benefits of a short wait period may be small.

Side effects may also be more common if taken in quick succession. While studies show evidence that boosters are safe, there is yet to be long-term data. Despite availability, Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots are not explicitly recommended to the general population yet. The initial vaccine doses are showing to provide good protection against the coronavirus as it stands.

Resources: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccinations - Statistics and Research Unvaccinated and misunderstood? Let's talk Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes Additional Vaccine Dose for Certain Immunocompromised Individuals Thinking about COVID booster shots? Here's what to know

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