Frequently Asked Questions
Who is currently eligible for the COVID-19 booster doses?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 12 years and older should receive a COVID-19 booster at the recommended interval following their primary vaccine series.
- If you received the Moderna or Pfizer primary series and five months have passed since receiving your second shot you are eligible for a booster dose.
- If you received the primary single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and two months have passed since receipt of the vaccine you are eligible for a booster dose.
- The immune response following COVID-19 vaccination may differ in people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. Specific guidance for these individuals has been developed. If you are moderately or severely immunocompromised, please visit the CDC website to learn more about the number of doses in your primary series and when you should receive a booster dose: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html.
Please visit the CDC website for the most up to date booster recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html
What is a booster?
A booster is an additional dose of vaccine given after the protection provided by the primary series has decreased over time. A booster is designed to help you maintain your level of protection against a disease.
Why do I need a booster?
COVID-19 vaccines continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating variants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has evaluated data that show after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus may decrease over time and be less able to protect against variants.
This lower effectiveness is likely due to the combination of decreasing protection as time passes since getting vaccinated as well as the greater infectiousness of new variants. A booster shot will help strengthen protection against COVID-19, including circulating variants.
Am I fully vaccinated without a booster?
Persons are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-shot series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The CDC recommends individuals stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. The recommendations to stay up to date will be different depending on your age, your health status, and when you first got vaccinated. Many people who are immunocompromised may need an additional dose as part of their primary vaccine series. Additionally, the CDC strongly recommends boosters in individuals 12 years and older. A person is considered “boosted” and up to date right after getting their booster dose.
Please visit the CDC website for the most up to date recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html
If I need a booster shot, does that mean that the vaccines aren’t working?
No. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating variants. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. Data show that vaccinated people who receive a booster dose have stronger protection against COVID-19, including circulating variants, than un-boosted people.
Do I need to bring my COVID-19 vaccination card to my booster appointment?
Yes. When receiving your booster, please bring your COVID-19 vaccination card to your appointment. If you lost your vaccine card, please refer to the following instructions:
- If you are registered with the CDC's V-Safe program to track post-vaccine side effects and symptoms, you can access your dates of COVID-19 vaccination in the app. Click here to access V-Safe.
- You may also contact the Texas State Health Department to request a record of your immunization at 800.252.9152 or Immtrac@dshs.state.tx.us.
- If you received your vaccine in another state, please click here for a listing of state health departments.
Do I need to get the same brand of vaccine for my booster?
Individuals age 12-17 years may only receive a Pfizer COVID-19 booster. Individuals 18 years and older may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received while others may prefer to get a different booster.
The CDC recommends that in most situations, Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are preferred over the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for primary and booster vaccination due to the risk of serious adverse events.
Should I expect side effects after the booster dose?
Persons who receive a booster dose should expect similar or slightly less frequent side effects than those experienced after the first two doses. Common side effects are generally mild such as localized pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, and fatigue, headache, and low-grade fever.
Can I get a flu vaccination at the same time as my COVID-19 booster?
Yes. The COVID-19 booster dose may be given at any time, including before, after or at the same time as other vaccines, including the flu vaccine.