Covid-19 Booster Shots: Everything You Need to Know


Overview

A booster shot, of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, is identical to the first two doses received. The CDC recommends people receive the same mRNA vaccine brand for their booster shot, as they did with their first two shots. If COVID-19 booster shots are recommended the goal is for people to receive booster shots 8 months after they received the second dose of an mRNA vaccine, either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will decide if a booster shot is safe and effective based on research conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As of now, the CDC recommends people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive a booster shot because they may not build the same level of immunity from two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as people who are not immunocompromised.


People who are considered immunocompromised include:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood

  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system

  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system

  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)

  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection

  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

It is likely the FDA will approve booster shots for some or all people to be further protected against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines also protect against serious illness caused by the virus. People with the vaccine are less likely to need hospitalization or experience serious symptoms if they test positive for COVID-19. Receiving boosters for vaccines are common as seen in annual, flu and measles vaccine shots. COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness, according to research, does decrease over time. It is likely the vaccine for COVID-19 could need one or multiple booster shots to remain effective. With the spread of new variants, such as Delta, it is even more important to get vaccinated to help stop the spread and remain protected.


Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The CDC does not currently recommend a booster shot for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, even if you are immunocompromised. The FDA’s research of booster shots only applies to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, at this time.


References

1. “COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html.

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