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Should I Get a COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot?

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Booster shots for COVID-19 were recently approved. Here’s how to know if you should get one.

Posted by Temple Health

Did you get the COVID-19 vaccine? If so, you may be eligible to receive a booster shot as soon as 6 months after you complete both doses of your initial vaccination with Pfizer or Moderna. If you received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine 2 or more months ago, booster shots are also recommended.

Read on for answers to some of the most common questions about COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.

What is a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

The protection provided by the original COVID-19 vaccine may decrease over time. Vaccine boosters are designed to help people maintain a higher level of immunity against the virus for a longer time.

Who is eligible to receive a booster shot?

For people who had a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you receive a booster shot if you are:

  • Age 65 and older
  • 50-64 years old with certain underlying medical conditions

Other people may receive a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster but should consider their individual benefits and risks, including:

  • People age 18-49 with underlying medical conditions
  • People 18-64 years old at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission due to occupation or living situation. This includes:
    • Essential workers (healthcare workers, teachers, daycare staff and first responders)
    • Caregivers of people with certain health conditions
    • Individuals who live in group settings, such as long-term care facilities, homeless shelters and prisons

For people who got the Janssen/J&J COVID vaccine, a booster shot is recommended if you are 18 or older.

COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots Video Q&A cover
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine booster shots in this Q&A with virologist Glenn Rall, PhD. Note: This video was recorded before Moderna/J&J booster shot approval.
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine booster shots in this Q&A with virologist Glenn Rall, PhD. Note: This video was recorded before Moderna/J&J booster shot approval.

When can I get a booster shot?

You can get a COVID-19 booster shot 6 months or later after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, but you should not get one sooner than that.

If you received the Janssen/J&J vaccine, you can get a booster shot 2 months after your initial dose.

Should I get the same shot as I originally had?

You can choose which COVID vaccine you receive as a booster shot, whether it's the vaccine type you originally had or a different booster. The CDC allows for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

Where can I get a booster shot?

To find out where vaccine boosters are being given in your area, check your doctor's office, retail pharmacies or local and state vaccine websites.

At Temple Health, we're working to contact people who are eligible. We offer the booster shot at 2 convenient sites, which you can choose from when you are contacted:

  • Temple University Hospital – Main Campus (Student Faculty Center) at 3340 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140
    • Appointments and walk-ins accepted Monday-Friday, from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
  • Temple – Roosevelt Boulevard Vaccine Clinic (Boulevard Plaza next to Chickies & Pete’s adjacent to Temple ReadyCare) at 11000 Roosevelt Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19116
    • Appointments and walk-ins accepted Monday-Wednesday and Friday, from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Do I need to show proof to get a vaccine booster?

There are no requirements to prove eligibility to receive a booster. But you should only get a booster shot if you already received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or after your initial dose of the Janssen/J&J vaccine.

Are there side effects to the vaccine booster?

Side effects for booster shots have been shown to be similar to the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, according to the CDC. Symptoms are mostly mild to moderate, and may include symptoms such as fatigue and pain at the injection site.

Can I get a COVID-19 booster shot at the same time as the flu shot?

Yes. Flu vaccines can be given at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine or booster.

Is there any reason I should not get a vaccine booster if I meet the requirements?

If you have had COVID-19 or received monoclonal antibody treatment, speak with your doctor about whether you should get a booster shot. If you have any questions at all about whether a vaccine booster is right for you, your doctor is the best person to ask.

Editor's Note: This blog was updated on October 29, 2021 to reflect the Moderna and J&J booster shot approvals.

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