The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved booster shots for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, offering additional protection for millions more Americans.

Coronavirus Updates, News | 15 days ago

COVID-19 Booster Shots: What You Need to Know

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved booster shots for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, offering additional protection for millions more Americans. Katie Passaretti, MD, medical director of infection prevention at Atrium Health, has answers to some of your questions about boosters and what to expect. 

COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be highly effective in preventing hospitalization. People who are vaccinated are six times less likely to be infected and 11 times less likely to die from COVID-19 than unvaccinated people. Of those who are hospitalized, more than 90% are unvaccinated. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) have approved booster shots for everyone 18-years old and older, for each of the three existing vaccines.

So, what does this mean and how should you plan based on your personal needs? Katie Passaretti, MDvice president and enterprise chief epidemiologist at Atrium Healthrecently answered some questions on the topic.

What are COVID-19 booster shots?

Avaccine booster shot may be administered toeligible individuals. Initial vaccine protection is good, but it decreases over time so boosters help to bump that protection back up. The CDC and the FDA have now approved boosters for everyone ages 18-years old and older who:

  • Completed both doses of the Pfizer-BioNtechor Moderna vaccines at least six months ago 
  • Received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago

The CDC has also said that any of the three approved COVID-19 vaccines can be used as a booster and leave it up to patients and their providers to decide which is the best option for them. 

What about people who are immunocompromised?

People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and received the Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna vaccines should get a third dose of the vaccine at least 28 days after their second dose. It’s also recommended that those individuals should then get a booster six months after their third dose. So for people who are immunocompromised, it’s recommended they get a total of four doses. 
 
Booster appointments are now available on MyAtriumHealth and on AtriumHealth.org/COVID19vaccine

Why do I need another COVID-19 vaccination?

Similar to other vaccines such as flu vaccine effectiveness can wane over time. Booster shots are neededfor some individuals to provide additional protection against COVID-19.

Do I need to get the same vaccine I received previously?

No. The FDA and the CDC have said it’s okay to mix-and-match boosters. We do recommend you try to stick with the same manufacturer for the first two parts of a vaccination series, but the CDC’s decision leaves it up to you and your doctor to decide which booster is best for you. That means, even if you received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, it’s okay to get Moderna or Johnson & Johnson for your booster. 

What can I expect after the booster shot?

If you experience any side effects, they likely will be similar tothose you might’ve experienced after the prior dose.

How can I get one if I meet the criteria?

You can receive a COVID-19 booster shot anywhere the vaccine is offered if you qualifyAtrium Health now scheduling boosters for all adults as long as enough time has passed since their vaccine. Appointments are available via MyAtriumHealth and AtriumHealth.org/COVID19vaccine.