Keep Your COVID-19 Vaccination Up to Date with Booster Shots

Sep 1 2022

COVID-19 vaccine boosters can further enhance or restore protection that might have decreased over time after your primary series vaccination. To be up to date on your COVID-19 vaccination means that you’ve received all doses in your primary series and all boosters you are eligible for.

How do COVID-19 booster shots work?

A booster shot “boosts” your immune system’s response with an additional dose of vaccine. This extra dose helps your immune system remember how to fight a disease if you get exposed.

Boosters are given to people whose immune response has weakened over time since their last shot. A good example of this is a tetanus shot, which most people get boosters for over their lifetime.

COVID-19 booster shot eligibility

COVID-19 vaccine boosters provide the best protection against hospitalization and severe illness – including for vaccinated people who test positive for COVID-19.

All four COVID-19 vaccines are authorized to be given as booster doses by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Boosters are not new vaccines – they’re additional doses of an existing vaccine. For some people, especially children, a booster dose is smaller than the original vaccine dose.

The question of whether to get a booster shot depends on several things:

  • Your age
  • Which COVID-19 vaccine(s) you already received
  • Whether you are considered immunocompromised

Certain medical conditions or taking medications to suppress the immune system can result in having a weakened immune system, also known as being immunocompromised.

If you have a weakened immune system, you’re especially vulnerable to COVID-19 and its risks. For example, this group of people is more likely to have a serious illness that lasts a long time.

Someone considered immunocompromised has:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (some examples include DiGeorge syndrome and Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune system

Because booster shot guidelines depend on several factors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a tool to help you decide if or when to consider a booster shot for yourself or your child. Visit their website to check out this new tool. 

Check out more information about the COVID-19 vaccine

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