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What is the Booster Shot and Do I Need It?

As we face year three of being in a pandemic, more than half of Americans are fully vaccinated, and it feels like the end of this health crisis might finally be in sight.

To get us towards that finish line faster, the CDC now recommends all adults over 18 years old receive third and booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. But for many people, the question remains, “Should I get a booster shot?”

What is the COVID-19 booster shot?

A booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine that’s administered after the original shots.

These additional shots aren’t anything new, and many adults probably have memories of receiving booster shots for measles and other childhood diseases. What the COVID-19 booster shot does is remind the body of the virus it’s supposed to fight against, which helps people maintain their immunity against COVID-19 for longer.

Which COVID-19 vaccines are approved for booster shots?

The FDA has approved all three vaccines for boosters—Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson.

If you’ve received Moderna or Pfizer vaccinations, the CDC recommends you get your booster shot at least six months following your primary vaccinations.

If you’ve received Johnson & Johnson, the CDC recommends you get your booster shot at least two months after your shot.

Should I still get a booster shot if I’ve already had COVID-19?

The recommendation for adults to receive the booster shot applies to those who’ve been previously infected, too. Though scientists suggest that people who’ve had COVID-19 do have stronger immunity than others, it’s still best practice to receive the booster shot.

Which booster shot should I get?

You can choose whichever vaccine you’d like. Whether you’d like to stick with the same vaccine type as your primary doses or opt for a different one, it’s your choice because the CDC has approved mixing and matching vaccine shots.

Are there side effects of the booster shot?

Booster shot side effects are reminiscent of the primary two-shot or single-shot doses. According to the CDC, fever, headache, fatigue, and pain at the injection site are the most commonly reported side effects.

Why should I get the COVID-19 booster shot if I’m already fully vaccinated?

Good question. You are considered fully vaccinated with or without the booster shot. However, studies show that immunity against COVID-19 and the Delta variant decreases over time.

The primary doses protect us from severe illnesses. Still, according to the CDC, as protection diminishes over time and the infectiousness of the Delta variant increases, the vaccination is less effective at preventing milder illnesses and infections. Therefore, receiving a booster shot will boost your body’s immunity and help keep you protected against the virus in the long run.

How can I schedule my booster shot?

Start by contacting the original location where you received your primary vaccination. If you still need help finding a provider, head to the CDC’s website here to find a COVID-19 vaccination near you.


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