Frequently Asked Questions About Updated COVID-19 Vaccines

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What are the updated vaccines?

The COVID-19 vaccines continue to work very well at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

The updated vaccines now available from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna target the Omicron variant, which is the COVID virus infecting people today. They’re an additional dose for people who’ve completed their primary vaccination series.

Novavax offers a booster dose of its COVID vaccine, but it doesn’t target Omicron. People 18 and older can get the extra Novavax dose if they’ve completed their primary vaccination series.

Who should get an updated COVID vaccine?

Vaccinated people 6 months and older should get an updated vaccine when eligible.

Children 6 months – 4 years who got all 3 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech primary vaccination series don’t need an updated vaccine at this time.

It’s especially important for the following people to get an updated vaccine because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID:

When should I get an updated COVID vaccine?

When to get your updated COVID vaccine depends on your age, how many vaccine doses you’ve already gotten, and when you got them:

  • Get your updated COVID vaccine now if you’re vaccinated and your last dose was before September 2022 (October 2022 for kids 6 months – 11 years).
  • Otherwise, wait until 2 months after you complete your primary vaccination series to get your updated vaccine dose. Completing your primary vaccination series means you got your first 2 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Novavax vaccine, or your 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
  • If you recently had COVID, you should wait 3 months from when you got sick to get your updated vaccine.

Children 6 months – 4 years who got all 3 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech primary vaccination series don’t need an updated vaccine at this time.

Do I have to get the same COVID vaccine I got previously for my updated vaccine?

If you’re 5 or older, you can get either Pfizer-BioNTech’s or Moderna’s updated COVID vaccine; it doesn’t matter which COVID vaccine you got previously—Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen.

Children 6 months – 4 years who got Moderna’s primary vaccination series can only get Moderna’s updated vaccine.

Are the updated COVID vaccines 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 an updated COVID vaccine?

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 updated vaccine.

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 for people your age.

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

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.