Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters

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What is a booster shot?

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 protection.

Who can get COVID vaccine boosters?

Everyone 5 and older who has completed their initial COVID vaccination series can get a COVID-19 vaccine booster.

It’s especially important for the following people to get a booster because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

You can get your 1st booster:

  • 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 can get a 2nd booster 4 months after your 1st, if you’re:

  • 50 or older and got the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.   
  • 18 or older and got the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

Which COVID-19 vaccine boosters are available?

  • Teens ages 12–17 can get a Pfizer-BioNTech  booster.
  • Adults 18 or older can get any of the  boosters available in the United States.

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).

Are the COVID-19 vaccine boosters safe?

Yes. Just like other vaccinations, your arm might feel sore after you get your shot. You might also experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headaches, body aches, and tiredness.

These are normal signs that your immune system is responding to the vaccine. Although these side effects may be unpleasant, you’re not actually sick. And they last a few days at most.

Serious side effects from any vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccines, are very rare.

Where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

Most providers of COVID-19 vaccines offer booster shots.

Vaccines are available from pharmacies, doctors’ offices, community health centers, and many more locations. Most people live within 5 miles of a vaccination site.

You have 3 ways to find free vaccines near you:

  • Go to vaccines.gov
  • 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.

When am I best protected with a COVID vaccine?

You’re best protected when you’re up to date with your COVID vaccines. That means you’ve gotten all recommended doses:

  • 2 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine plus 1 booster when you’re eligible.
  • 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine plus 1 booster when you’re eligible.

CDC prefers that you get an mRNA vaccine and booster from either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.

A 2nd booster is not needed for you to be up to date on your vaccines.

Do I need to keep wearing a mask once I get my booster?

To maximize protection from highly contagious variants and prevent possibly spreading COVID to others, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear a mask inside public places when the COVID risk to your community is high.

Vaccinated and unvaccinated people must also follow federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial laws, rules, and regulations. That includes safety precautions for:

  • Public transportation
  • Airports and airplanes
  • Local businesses
  • Workplaces

Where can I find more information about COVID-19 vaccines?

For more information about COVID-19, including the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, see our Facts About COVID-19 and the Vaccines.