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COVID-19 Boosters and Third Doses

Recent Changes

  • The CDC now recommends a 4th shot (booster) for moderately or severely immunocompromised ages 12 and up 5 months after receiving the initial 3-shot series.
  • A third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is now approved for moderately or severely immunocompromised people ages 5 and up.
  • The recommended wait time for a booster after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines has decreased from 6 months to 5 months.
  • A booster shot is now approved for anyone ages 12 and up.

Boosters vs. Third Doses

A third dose is for people who are moderately or severely immune-compromised; their original immune response from the first 2 doses may not have been strong enough, so a third dose is recommended as part of their primary vaccine series. These individuals are able to get a third dose as soon as 28 days after their second.

A booster shot is an additional dose of vaccine given after the protection provided by the original shot(s) has begun to weaken over time. A booster is intended to help people maintain immunity for a longer period of time.

COVID-19 Booster Shots

Eligibility

Everyone ages 12 and older who has completed their initial vaccine series can get a booster shot, including those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.

  • Those who received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine at least 5 months ago can now get a booster shot.
  • Those who received a Johnson & Johnson (J&J)/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 months ago can now get a booster shot.
  • Those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised who are 12 and up and received the 3rd dose of their initial vaccine series 5 months ago can now get a booster shot.

See more from the CDC about who is eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot and other important information about boosters.

Which Brand of Booster Dose to Schedule?

For people ages 12-17, Pfizer is the only approved booster at this time.

Most people ages 18 and up will choose to receive a booster of the same product that they received for their original two-dose vaccine series. For example, if your original two-dose vaccine series was Pfizer, you would choose a Pfizer booster. However, both the FDA and the CDC support the use of a different booster product than that used for the original series if the patient chooses or if the patient’s physician recommends it.

Individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, have completed their 3-shot initial series, and are 12-17 years of age should schedule a Pfizer-BioNTech.

Individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, have completed their 3-shot initial series, and are 18 years of age and older should schedule a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

Patients ages 12-17 or their parent or guardian can call 860-679-5589 to schedule their Pfizer booster shot. Patients ages 16 and up can schedule their booster through MyChart.

COVID-19 Third Dose – Recommendations for Immunocompromised

The CDC has issued third dose (Pfizer or Moderna) recommendations for individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.

You are eligible to receive a third dose if you are either:

  1. Aged 5 and above and you completed the two shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days ago; or
  2. Aged 18 and up and you completed the two shots of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days ago;

And you are moderately or severely immunocompromised; specifically, that at least one of the following applies to you:

  • You have been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood;
  • You have received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system;
  • You have received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medication to suppress the immune system;
  • You have a moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome);
  • You have advanced or untreated HIV infection; or
  • You are undergoing active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response.

If you are unsure if the medication you take is an immune-suppressing or immune-modulating medicine, which would make you eligible for a third dose of the vaccine, please see this list of medications (this list is not intended to be all-inclusive). You can also speak with your health care provider about your medical condition and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for you.

Scheduling is available by phone at 860-679-5589. Please note, we will not take walk-ins for third doses.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a third dose and a booster?

  • Third doses are recommended for those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. Studies have found that some immunocompromised people do not develop the same level of immunity after vaccination the way that non-immunocompromised people do and that they may benefit from a third dose to ensure adequate protection against COVID-19. Those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may receive a third dose if they received their second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days ago.
  • A booster is an additional dose of vaccine given after the protection provided by the original shot(s) has begun to diminish over time. A booster is intended to help people maintain immunity for a longer period of time. The FDA and CDC recommend booster shots for those who received the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 months ago and those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 5 months ago and meet certain criteria.

How long should people wait between receiving another vaccine (such as a flu vaccine) and a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may now be administered without regard to timing. This includes simultaneous administration of the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines on the same day, as well as co-administration within 14 days.

Booster Shots

Do I qualify for a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Everyone ages 12 and older can get a booster shot.

  • If you received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 5 months ago, you are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot if you are 12 years or older.
  • If you received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine at least 2 months ago and are 18 years old or older, you are eligible to receive a booster shot.

Which booster should I get?

For people ages 12-17, Pfizer is the only approved booster at this time.

For moderately or severely immunocompromised people, you can receive a booster (4th dose) of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.

For everyone else ages 18 and up, regardless of which COVID-19 vaccine you received for your initial vaccinations, your booster can be any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States. The CDC’s recommendations now allow mix and match dosing for booster shots.

How long should I wait before I get a COVID-19 booster shot?

Eligible people 12 years and older who received Pfizer or Moderna should wait at least 5 months after their second dose.

People 18 years and older should wait at least 2 months after receiving their Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

Are the booster shots the same as the initial vaccines?

Yes. The COVID-19 booster shots are the same as the current COVID-19 vaccines, with one exception: the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster is half the dose of the vaccine given for the initial series.

Are there any risks associated with the booster shots?

The CDC reports that reactions to the booster shot are similar to the initial doses. The most commonly reported side effects are fever, headache, fatigue, and pain at the injection site, and most side effects were mild to moderate. Serious side effects may occur but are rare.

Third Dose (For Immunocompromised People)

Do I qualify for a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC recommends a third dose for patients ages 5 and up who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. This includes those with the following conditions:

  • Active or recent treatment for cancer
  • Previous stem cell transplant or CAR T-cell therapy
  • Previous solid organ transplant (such as a kidney or liver transplant)
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with immune-suppressing medications, including high-dose corticosteroids, chemotherapy, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors, and other biologic agents that suppress or modulate the immune system

This recommendation only applies to individuals who received an mRNA vaccine, in other words, the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. At this time, the CDC is not recommending an additional dose for patients who received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, even if they are immunocompromised. However, those who received the J&J/Janssen vaccine are now eligible for a booster shot if they received their initial dose at least 2 months ago.

If I qualify for a third dose, how long do I need to wait after my second dose of an mRNA vaccine before receiving an additional dose?

If you have one of the above conditions, you are eligible to receive a third dose if:

  1. You received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, at least 28 days have passed since your last dose, and you are at least 5 years old;

or

  1. You received two doses of the Moderna vaccine, at least 28 days have passed since your last dose, and you are at least 18 years old.

If I received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, do I qualify for a third vaccine dose or a dose of an mRNA vaccine?

At this time, there is no recommendation for individuals who received a Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine to receive a third dose or a dose of an mRNA vaccine. However, those who received the J&J/Janssen vaccine are now eligible for a booster shot if they received their initial dose at least 2 months ago.

If I qualify for a third dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, should I have a COVID-19 antibody test prior to receiving an additional dose?

No. The use of antibody (serologic) testing to make a decision about receiving an additional dose of vaccine is not recommended at this time.

If I qualify for a third dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine and received a Pfizer mRNA vaccine for my initial doses, which vaccine should I receive for my additional dose?

The third mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose should be the same vaccine product as the initial 2-dose mRNA COVID-19 primary vaccine series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna). If the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product given for the first two doses is not available, the other mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered. A person should not receive more than three mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses. Please note that Pfizer is the only approved vaccine at this time for people ages 17 and under.

If I qualify for a third dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, do I need a doctor’s note to receive the vaccine?

No. You do not need a doctor’s note to receive any dose of the vaccine, including the third doses or boosters.

Should those who are immunocompromised continue to take precautionary measures after they get vaccinated?

Yes. People who are immunocompromised (including people who receive a third mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose after an initial two-dose primary mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series) may have a reduced immune response to COVID-19 vaccines. They should continue to follow current preventive measures (including wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others they don’t live with, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces) to protect themselves against COVID-19 until advised otherwise by their health care professional. Close contacts of immunocompromised people should also be strongly encouraged to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect these people.