November 8, 2021
COVID-19 Booster Shots: What You Need to Know

In recent months the FDA has given authorization for COVID-19 booster shots for certain populations.

Over time, the particular booster shots available as well as the people recommended to receive them have expanded. As the situation continues to develop, you may be wondering if and when you should get a COVID-19 booster shot yourself. Here’s what you should know.

What is a booster shot and why is it needed?

A booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine. Booster shots are given to help people keep a sufficient level of immunity from a particular disease for a longer period of time. They are given after the protection provided by the original vaccination for that disease has begun to wear off. This happens with many vaccines over time, especially as the virus that causes a disease begins to mutate (change) over time.

This does not mean that the original vaccine did not work. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death. But public health experts are seeing reduced protection over time, especially among certain populations.

What type of booster shots are available for COVID-19?

All three of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – now have a booster shot available.

Who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot, and when should they get it?

Currently, only certain groups of people are eligible to receive the COVID-19 booster shot. When they should receive it depends on which COVID-19 vaccine they received in the past.

If you received the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine:

You should get a booster shot if you are:

You may get a booster shot if you are:

If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you should get a booster shot if you are:

How long after your first vaccination is a booster recommended?

Again, the answer depends on which vaccine you received in the past.

If you received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and are included in the eligible categories noted above, you should receive a booster shot if it’s been at least 6 months since your second shot of that vaccine.

If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are included in the eligible categories noted above for that vaccine, you should receive a booster shot if it’s been at least 2 months since your initial shot.

Does your booster shot have to be from the same manufacturer as your original vaccination?

No. You can choose whichever vaccine you would like for your booster shot – Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson. It does not need to be the same vaccine you received when you were first vaccinated.

Should I bring my COVID-19 vaccination card to my booster shot appointment?

Yes, you should. Your booster will be recorded on this card.

Where I can receive a COVID-19 booster shot?

UMass Memorial Health – Harrington offers first-time COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as booster shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for eligible individuals by appointment only. Learn more and make an appointment on our COVID-19 Vaccination and Booster Shots page.

You can also search for COVID-19 vaccine providers (including booster shots) at

Where can I learn more and see the latest updates on COVID-19 booster shots?

Visit the CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot web page for additional information and the latest updates.

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