This blog was last updated on September 24, 2021. Check back regularly for the most recent news and information on COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
In the news, you may have heard that the CDC has started recommending that some patients receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot to increase their protection against the deadly coronavirus.
But who is eligible? And where can you get a booster? Chief Medical Officer Dr. Emilio Dominguez explains everything patients need to know about COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
Click to jump to a question:
- What is a vaccine booster?
- Do I need a vaccine booster shot?
- Can I get a booster if I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
- Are there side effects?
- Where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot?
What is a vaccine booster?
Vaccine boosters are additional doses of a vaccine that help boost your immunity to a disease beyond what the initial dose provides.
In August 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began recommending that immunosuppressed patients get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot after receiving the first two doses of a vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
In September 2021, the CDC and Food & Drug Administration updated their guidance to include people who received the Pfizer vaccine AND are either 65 or older, have conditions that increase their chances for severe infection (like diabetes, heart conditions, etc.), or who have an occupation that puts them at risk of catching COVID-19.
Here are some important facts about these boosters:
- Booster shots help your body better fight off the coronavirus. This extra protection is important for immunosuppressed or immunocompromised patients whose bodies can’t fight off a viral infection without help from a vaccine.
- The boosters are made of the same ingredients in the same dosage amount as each of the first two Pfizer and Moderna shots. There are no new ingredients in the boosters.
- The CDC recommends that you receive the same vaccine as your other doses. If you got the Pfizer vaccine initially, you should get a Pfizer booster.
- If you’re immunocompromised, you should receive a booster 28 days after your second shot. If it’s been longer than 28 days since your second shot, you should still get a booster.
- If you’re not immunocompromised but still qualify for a booster, you should received a shot 6 months after your second shot. If it’s been longer than 6 months since your second shot, you should still get a booster.
Do I need a vaccine booster shot?
For Immunocompromised Patients
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that immunocompromised patients receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot if they received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. That includes patients who:
- Are currently receiving cancer treatment
- Have a condition that affects their immune system (such as patients with DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Are taking immune-suppressing medicines (such as for cancer, after an organ transplant, or biologic therapy)
- Are taking high-dose corticosteroids (which can suppress the immune system)
- Have an advanced or untreated HIV infection
If you meet any of the above criteria and have already gotten the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, doctors advise that you receive a vaccine booster shot to better protect you against COVID-19.
For Patients Who Aren’t Immunocompromised
In September 2021, the FDA approved a booster shot for people who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine AND who are:
- 65 years of age or older
- At least 18 and have a health condition that puts them at risk of a severe case of COVID-19
- At least 18 and work in a job that puts them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 (such as health care workers)
If you meet the above criteria and received the Pfizer vaccine, the CDC recommends you received a booster at least 6 months after your second dose.
If you meet the above criteria but received a Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the FDA and CDC do not currently recommend you receive a booster. This may change in the future as scientists learn more about the safety and effectiveness of boosters of these vaccines.
For more updates on who can receive a booster, keep an eye on the CDC website or a local news outlet.
Can I get a booster if I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
As of September 2021, there are no official guidelines that recommend patients receive a booster shot if they’ve already gotten the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
However, this may change in the future. You can check the CDC’s page on booster shots for the most up-to-date information about Johnson & Johnson boosters.
Are there side effects?
Clinical trials show that it’s safe to receive a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. There are reports that the side effects are similar to what patients experience after getting the initial two doses.
You may experience:
- Muscle/joint aches
- Pain at the injection site
Scientists and doctors are still studying people’s responses to the booster shots to understand who experiences side effects and how common they are.
However, scientists and doctors know that the majority of side effects from the vaccine booster are temporary and not life-threatening, unlike the potential symptoms and complications associated with a COVID-19 infection.
Where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot?
Florida Medical Clinic doctors encourage you to receive a vaccine booster if you’re eligible under CDC guidelines.
Our facilities don’t offer COVID-19 vaccines at this time, so we recommend you book an appointment at:
You don’t need a doctor’s order to receive the vaccine booster at CVS, Walgreens, or Walmart. However, you may be asked about your health status during the scheduling process. You’ll also be asked about the date of your second vaccine dose.
If you still have questions about the booster or are wondering if you’re eligible, talk to your doctor. You can also visit the CDC website or sign up for the Florida Medical Clinic newsletter for more information about COVID-19.