Communicating With a General Audience About COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters

Talking Points

  • The COVID-19 vaccines continue to work very well at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death. A booster shot is an extra dose that helps keep up your protection.
  • Everyone 5 and older can get free COVID boosters.
  • You should get your 1st booster shot:
    • 5 months after your 2nd dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
    • 2 months after your single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
  • You should get a 2nd booster 4 months after your 1st if:

    • You’re 50 or older. 
    • You got Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine for both your initial vaccine and booster.
  • The best way to protect against COVID-19 is to get your boosters as soon as you’re eligible.
  • It’s especially important for people age 50 and older, residents of long-term care settings, people with underlying medical conditions, and pregnant and recently pregnant people to get boosters because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID.
  • If you’re age 18 or older, you can choose which COVID-19 vaccine to get as your booster; CDC has issued a preference for people to get an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna). Right now, only children ages 5–17 who got the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should get a booster.
  • COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects in some people, but serious side effects are extremely rare. Most side effects go away on their own in a few days. The most common side effect is a sore arm at the injection site.
  • Most providers of COVID-19 vaccines offer booster shots.
  • You have three ways to find vaccines near you, including boosters:
    • Go to
    • Text your ZIP code to 438829
    • Call 1-800-232-0233
  • Remember to bring your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card when you go for your booster shot.

Messages/Tone That Resonate With General Audiences

  • Use credible, science-based information.
  • Acknowledge that it’s normal for people to have questions about the vaccines and that their questions matter.
  • Remind people that their doctors or other health care providers can answer their questions about vaccines and boosters.
  • Remind people that vaccines are another tool in the toolkit to protect themselves and loved ones.