COVID-19 vaccine boosters: What you should know

Archive, August, Month

Talk of vaccine boosters have been discussed since the program’s rollout.

Since the first COVID-19 vaccines rolled out as part of the nationwide program, chatter of a booster shot given annually (or even months later) started as well.

Now, months into the vaccination program, with millions upon millions of Americans (170 million and growing) dosed with the vaccine, talk of a booster has gained more steam, especially with the most recent surge fueled by the delta variant.


The US Food and Drug Administration has issued emergency use authorizations, or EUA, for third-dose booster shots to both mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna.

Before its was granted full FDA approval, the two-dose Pfizer vaccine was able to be administered to the population through an EUA. (Moderna has submitted its vaccine for full FDA approval, but is currently available with its EUA.)

Who’s eligible?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have officially recommended a booster shot for moderately to severely immunocompromised people.

In terms of a timetable, the organization instructs receiving a third dose of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) 28 days after receiving the second dose.

Thus far, immunocompromised, fully vaccinated individuals are the only population advised to receive a booster by the CDC. However, the US Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, has announced that it will begin offering booster shots to the greater, fully vaccinated population.

Beginning Sept. 20, this larger population of fully vaccinated Americans will be eligible to receive a third dose of an mRNA vaccine six months after their second dose.

Single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The FDA issued its EUA for the mRNA Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in December 2020, but it wasn’t until February 2021 that the same was given to the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Data is still being collected to determine if a Johnson & Johnson booster is needed, and whether that potential booster could come from one of the mRNA vaccines.

The vaccines are working

The recommendation for a booster shot does not signal that the vaccines are weak or ineffective.

While no vaccine is perfect (clinical trials showed the mRNA vaccines were more than 90 percent effective, and they were still more than 70 percent effective six months later), the vaccines are doing what they were designed to do, which is to give its recipients a greater chance of avoiding serious illness and hospitalization due to a COVID-19 infection.

Boosters are designed to increase the level of effectiveness and longevity of the body’s immune defense against the coronavirus.

The vaccines are safe, effective and still strongly encouraged.


The latest COVID-19 guidelines

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