On Nov. 19, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) both approved expanding eligibility for COVID-19 booster doses to include all adults aged 18 and older. Previously, eligibility criteria only covered those aged 65 and older, those frequently in high-exposure environments, and those who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 infection.
This new recommendation follows evidence that vaccine effectiveness decreases over time and that booster doses increase COVID-19 antibody response, which can prevent serious complications from the virus including hospitalization and death. Vaccines have continually been proven to be the best defense against COVID-19 and an effective way to decrease its spread.
Booster doses are available for Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen (J&J) vaccine products, and your booster dose does not need to come from the same provider as your initial round of vaccinations. It is recommended that those who initially had the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines should receive their booster dose at least six months after their last dose, and those who had the single-dose J&J vaccine should receive their booster dose at least two months after their initial dose.
As with most vaccines, people can experience some side effects from receiving a COVID-19 booster dose. These include muscle or joint pain, fatigue, headaches, swollen lymph nodes and pain, redness, and swelling around the injection site. Although there have been reports of heart or blood conditions resulting from COVID-19 vaccines, these cases are rare and both the FDA and CDC assert that the benefits outweigh the risks and that even worse complications could occur from a COVID-19 infection if you have not been vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect yourself and others from the virus. To find a vaccine provider near you, visit vaccines.gov or text your zip code to 438829. If you have questions about your vaccination options, you can read through the CDC’s fact sheets for each of the Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen vaccines or talk to your healthcare provider.