Should I Get a COVID-19 Booster Shot?
Booster shots are now available for many age groups, and if eligible, you should highly consider getting one. If you previously had COVID-19, a booster shot can still help prevent reinfection. If you have not had COVID-19, a booster shot will continue to protect you against coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting a booster five months after the second dose of an mRNA vaccine series (Pfizer or Moderna) and two months after the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. When the time comes for your COVID-19 booster shot, our team at Mira can help you find an appointment.
COVID-19 Booster Vaccine
The level of antibodies produced from vaccination or infection wane over time; therefore, booster shots are recommended to help boost immunity to the virus. Studies show the antibodies produced by mRNA COVID-19 vaccines remain effective at preventing severe infection for at least six months after the second dose.
At this time, everyone over the age of 12 should get a booster shot, especially people over 65 years old and those who are immunocompromised. As of January 2022, individuals above the age of 12 should get a Pfizer booster shot.
Why We Need COVID-19 Booster Shots
Krishna Kannan, the Director of Research and Development at Codex DNA, explains, “The antibody titers decline after COVID-19 infection, but that's not a cause for alarm since memory cells seem to be retained. The only worrisome thing is the emergence of variants since the existing immunity from vaccination or prior infection may not be able to fend off the new variants effectively.”
If the virus rapidly mutates, we could need booster shots annually (like the flu shot) or less regularly (like Tetanus shots). The percentage of people who get vaccinated now will determine how quickly the virus can spread and mutate.
What COVID-19 Booster Shot to Get
The CDC permits “mixing and matching” at this time, meaning you do not have to get boosted with the same vaccine you originally received. Getting a different booster shot compared to your original shot will increase your antibody response and may provide better protection against COVID-19.
When it is time to get a booster shot, you can choose which one you want to receive as long as it is in stock. Some locations have all three booster shots available, while others may only have one.
COVID-19 Booster Shot Recommendations
|First Dose Vaccination||Who Should Get a Booster||When To Get a Booster||Which Booster You Can Get||Which Booster You SHOULD Get|
|Pfizer-BioNTech||Everyone 12 years and older||At least five months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination series|
Teens 12–17 years old can get a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster
Adults 18 years and older can get any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States
|While Moderna produces the best antibody response in this group (17.3 fold increase), receiving any dose of mRNA vaccine is effective at boosting a person’s immune response|
|Moderna||Adults 18 years and older||At least five months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination series||Any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States||While Pfizer produces the best antibody response in this group (9.7 fold increase), receiving any dose of an mRNA vaccine is effective at boosting a person’s immune response.|
|Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen||Adults 18 years and older||At least two months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination||Any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States||While Moderna produces the best antibody response in this group (56.1 fold increase), receiving any dose of mRNA vaccine is effective at boosting a person's immune response.|
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Breakthrough COVID-19 Infections
Recent evidence shows vaccination becomes less effective over time, especially in people aged 65 years and older. As time passes, immunity “wanes,” leading to decreased protection against COVID-19. Vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing infection, but the induced immune response is still essential for reducing the chance of hospitalization and death.
Despite the likelihood of breakthrough infections, the Omicron variant emphasizes the importance of boosters to reduce disease severity and hinder the speed of the spread.
Equity Issues Regarding COVID-19 Booster Shots
To date, 61.6% of the population in the U.S. is fully vaccinated, while only 8.3% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose. This lack of global solidarity is leaving the most vulnerable populations at risk worldwide. The table below highlights the disparities in COVID-19 vaccination.
Vaccination Rates Across the World
|Country||% of the population fully vaccinated|
COVID-19 Booster Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
COVID-19 booster shots are now being offered at pharmacies, health care facilities, and some cities are using public spaces such as mass vaccination sites across the nation.
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Do I need to get the same booster vaccine as my first shot(s)?
You do not need to get the same booster as your original shot. A “mix and match” strategy with COVID-19 vaccines has been shown to be safe and effective. For those who initially received an adenovector vaccine (Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca), receiving a second dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna) can create a more robust immune response than two of the same vaccines.
Do I need a booster even if I got the Pfizer shot?
The Pfizer shot is proving effective at preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19 5-months after the second dose, although citing a gradual decline in efficacy over the time period. Regardless of the initial shot you received, you should consider getting a booster shot to protect yourself and others.
What if the Omicron variant keeps spreading?
If the Omicron variant keeps spreading, we may need new vaccines. Since the strain is showing signs of vaccine-induced immunity evasion, there is a chance our current vaccines will not fully protect us from infection. However, your chances of getting extremely sick from the omicron variant are lower if you are vaccinated.
There are three main takeaways regarding COVID-19 booster shots:
- You should get your booster shot when you are eligible.
- Currently available vaccines are protective against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
- Regardless of your first dose, you can receive any approved COVID-19 vaccines as a booster shot, but mRNA vaccines are recommended.
If you need help scheduling a vaccine booster appointment, our team at Mira can help you out. For only $45 per month, Mira can also help you access affordable urgent care, prescriptions, and lab tests. Find out more and start saving today.
Alexis Bryan MPH, is a recent graduate of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. She is passionate about increasing access to care to improve health outcomes. Outside of work, she loves to travel, read, and pay too much attention to her plants.