Who is eligible to get the new bivalent COVID-19 booster shots?
Both the Pfizer and Moderna bivalent boosters have been approved for use as COVID-19 booster shots. Eligibility requirements are a little different for each booster:
- Pfizer: Only for people 12 years of age and older. You're eligible for a single booster dose of this vaccine 2 months after you've completed either your first vaccination series or have received a monovalent COVID-19 vaccine booster.
- Moderna: Only for people 18 years of age and older. You're eligible for a single booster dose of this vaccine 2 months after you've completed either your first vaccination series or have received a monovalent COVID-19 vaccine booster.
Why do we need an updated booster?
The updated booster is important because it provides more effective protection against circulating strains of COVID-19.
The omicron strain of COVID-19 is somewhat genetically different from previous strains. It's different enough from previous strains that it triggers a slightly different immune response when it infects you. This is partly why the omicron strain can re-infect people who are well protected from the original strains.
What is in the updated booster vaccines?
The updated booster vaccines are similar to the original vaccines. The difference is that these new boosters can also protect you against the specific omicron strain of the coronavirus
Does this mean that the original COVID-19 vaccine formulations are unsafe?
No. The original formulations of the vaccines are still considered safe and effective. The new boosters are considered more versatile because they target the original strains of COVID-19 and the omicron variant.
Why isn’t the FDA ordering a complete shift to bivalent COVID-19 vaccines?
The original formulations of the vaccines are still considered safe and effective. The supply chain for these vaccines is stable, so they're still easy to get. By comparison, the new bivalent vaccines are just arriving on the market, and it will take time for there to be enough for all patients.
Is the updated booster safe?
Yes. The safety of the updated booster was considered by the FDA when authorizing it for use. Here is the summary of information from the FDA.
What are the side effects?
You can expect to have side effects similar to those you felt when you got the first vaccine series or the original booster shots.
How many shots are required for the updated booster?
The booster vaccines are a single shot.
I previously got the Moderna original booster. If I get an updated booster now, does it have to be the Moderna one?
No. You can choose either the Moderna or Pfizer updated boosters. It doesn't matter if you got Moderna or Pfizer for your first shots or boosters.
I never got an original booster shot. Should I get one of those before I get the updated booster?
No. The originally Pfizer and Moderna boosters are no longer authorized for use as booster shots. You can only receive an updated booster.
I just finished my first vaccination series last week. Should I get the updated booster now?
You have to wait at least 2 months after you've gotten your first vaccination series or original boosters before getting the new booster.
I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as my primary series, and haven't gotten a booster. Should I get this updated booster?
Yes. Anyone who has completed a full primary series vaccine at least 2 months ago can receive an updated booster shot.
In the U.S., the primary series shots include:
- 2 doses or more of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine
- 2 shots of Novavax vaccine
- 1 shot of Johnson and Johnson vaccine
If you got a complete series of a different WHO-authorized primary vaccine series, you may also get this booster. Talk to your doctor about getting the booster.
I haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19 at all. Should I ask for the original or updated version of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine? How many doses will I need?
The original COVID-19 vaccines are still recommended for your initial vaccination series.
If you aren't immunocompromised, you'll need 2 doses of the original Pfizer or Moderna to be fully vaccinated.
If you are immunocompromised, you'll need 3 doses of one of those vaccines to be fully vaccinated.
I feel more comfortable getting the original booster. Can I still get it?
No. The original formulations of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are no longer authorized for use as booster shots. You may only receive an updated bivalent booster.
I recently was exposed to COVID-19. Can I get an updated booster?
If you're following a required quarantine, you should wait until after quarantine to get your booster shot.
If you don't have to quarantine, wait until you've tested yourself and the test is negative, no less than 4-7 after exposure. Once you're testing negative, you can get a vaccine.
I recently had COVID-19. Can I get an updated booster?
Yes. You must be at a minimum of 10 days after your first symptoms (if asymptomatic, then 10 days from diagnosis) and have completed your quarantine time before getting an updated booster.
If you've taken paxlovid, please wait at least 4 days after completing your course of paxlovid before obtaining your updated booster.
I have a flu shot scheduled and would like to get the updated booster shot at the same time. Can I do this?
Yes. It is medically safe to get both at the same time.
What should I do if I have a reaction to any COVID-19 vaccine?
If you have symptoms after the vaccine and you know you were recently exposed to the virus, you should isolate and get yourself tested. Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste or smell
If you don't have a known recent COVID exposure:
- People who develop symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate and get tested.
- People who develop signs and symptoms associated with either COVID or a vaccine (e.g., fever, fatigue, headache, myalgia) should also isolate. If the symptoms last less than 2 days after getting the vaccine, then you may return to work. If they last 2 full days or more, you should be tested for COVID-19.