Vaccines, Boosters, and Additional Doses – What You Need to Know

Written by Chad Signorelli, PharmD on

Are you confused about getting a booster or an additional vaccine dose? Consider this information when making your decision.

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As the pandemic continues, it may be confusing at times for someone wanting information about vaccines, boosters, and additional shots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccine boosters and additional vaccine doses, now authorized by the federal Food and Drug Administration, for certain people. 

But which one is right for you? It can be confusing, especially as new recommendations emerge.

  • Additional Dose: An additional primary dose is for people who do not build enough – or any – protection from their primary vaccine series. This appears to be the case for some immunocompromised people who received the initial doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines. For these people, the additional primary dose of mRNA Covid-19 vaccine should be administered at least 28 days after completing the two-dose primary series. The CDC indicates you should get the same product as your initial two doses. You may be confused because this was initially dubbed the “third dose.” That terminology changed once those who received a J&J “one dose” shot became eligible for another dose based on their immune systems.
  • Booster Dose: A booster dose is for people who built enough protection after completing the primary vaccine series. But that protection decreases as time passes. The CDC indicates that anyone age 16 and older may get a booster dose. If you received a Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Covid-19 vaccine, you should get a booster dose at least two months after your initial shot. Teens ages 16-17 can only receive a Pfizer-BioNTech booster at least six months after the last dose of their primary series. Those who received the Moderna vaccine will receive a half-dose as a booster.

How do you know if you can get an additional dose? The CDC recommends an additional dose if you fall into one of these categories:

  • Have 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 two years, or are taking medication to suppress the immune system
  • Are diagnosed with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Are diagnosed with HIV and have a high viral load or low CD4 count, or are not currently taking medication to treat HIV
  • Are taking drugs like high-dose steroids or other medicines that may cause severe suppression of the immune system

Can you expect any side effects? Some people may experience temporary symptoms similar to receiving a flu shot – such as a sore arm at the injection spot. You may also have some body aches, headaches and feel tired for a day or two. The CDC notes that the recent emergence of the Omicron variant emphasizes the importance of being vaccinated, receiving a booster, and continuing prevention efforts such as wearing masks, social distancing, and washing hands.

Register for a Vaccine Appointment Online!

All vaccination appointments can be made through the State’s MyTurn system. You may go online to check availability and register for an appointment.

Register

For more information about the MyTurn Scheduling tool, you can call (833) 422-4255. Visit CDC.gov to learn more about the virus and the vaccine.