Doses & Boosters – What You Need To Know
You may be eligible to receive an additional dose or a booster shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Read on to find out who is eligible and when you can get your next shot.
Do I need another COVID-19 shot?
Your initial vaccination series provides strong protection against COVID-19. But for some people, an additional dose or booster shot can offer added protection. Your eligibility and the timing between doses will depend on your personal circumstances and the type of vaccine you received initially. Read more about eligibility below.
Some people are eligible for an additional/third dose and others are eligible for a booster. What’s the difference?
The difference relates to a person’s immune status.
A COVID-19 booster shot is given two or six months after the initial vaccine due to concerns the vaccine’s effectiveness could decrease over time. An additional/third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is given as early as 28 days after the second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to help people with severely compromised immune systems who may not have had a full immune response to the initial vaccine series produce a stronger response.
Who is now eligible to receive a booster shot?
Right now, some people who are at higher risk of developing COVID-19, and who initially received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, are eligible for a booster shot six months after completing their initial series. They include:
- People 65 years and older
- People 18+ who live in long-term care settings
- People 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
- People 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings
People who are 18+ and received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine are eligible for a booster 2 months after their initial dose.
If you’re not sure if you should receive a COVID-19 booster shot, speak with your health care provider.
Does my COVID-19 booster have to be the same brand as my initial series?
No. The CDC has recommended that people who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot can choose which brand vaccine they’d like to receive. You may choose to receive the same vaccine you received before, or select a different brand for your booster shot.
Who is eligible for an additional/third dose?
People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems and who initially received a COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech are eligible for an additional dose of the same brand of vaccine they originally received.
This is a small group of people – about 3 percent of the adult population. This group is especially vulnerable to complications of COVID-19 because they are at risk of serious, prolonged illness. This includes people who 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 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Have a moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Have advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Are on active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
If you’re not sure if you are eligible, speak with your healthcare provider.
Where can I get a COVID-19 booster or an additional vaccine dose shot?
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are available at more than 500 locations in Massachusetts, including retail pharmacies. If you are eligible, here’s how to find a location near you:
- Visit the Massachusetts online directory to view hundreds of vaccination sites, and search for locations offering boosters with available appointments. Or, visit your state’s website to find a location near you.
- Call the Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line (2-1-1) and follow the prompts. The Resource Line is available in English and Spanish and has translators available in approximately 100 additional languages.
- Beth Israel Lahey Health has limited capacity for booster shots. Check our COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics page for the latest information on our clinics to schedule an appointment.
For more information, visit the CDC’s list of FAQs.
The information in this article is current as of the publishing date. For the most recent information, visit the CDC website.