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5 Things to Know About Booster Shots to Protect Yourself, Your Family, and Your Community



More children cleared for additional COVID-19 vaccine protections.

Booster shots offer enhanced protection against COVID-19 infection and reduce the severity of symptoms for vaccinated people with breakthrough infections.

Here are five of the latest things to know about the COVID-19 booster shots.

1)     The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for boosters, including those for children

The EUAs include:

  • Expanding the use of Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots to include all adolescents 12 years through 15. That means Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots are now approved for ages 12 and up.
  • Shortening the waiting period for Pfizer and Moderna booster shots for people who completed their initial two shots (primary vaccination series) to five months rather than the previous six. For Pfizer, this applies to anyone 12 years or older; for Moderna, adults 18 and over.
  • Allowing for a third Pfizer COVID-19 dose for certain immunocompromised children 5 through 11 years of age. Now everyone 5 years and older with moderate or severely compromised immune systems is approved.

For children 6 months to under 5 years of age, Pfizer and BioNtech are currently modifying their clinical trial to include a third pediatric vaccine shot due to a lack of a strong immune response among 2-4 year-olds who received two shots. If the three-shot series are successful, the companies expect to submit data for EUA for this age group during the first half of this year.

2)     Boosters are highly effective against the Omicron variant

New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that booster shots of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are 90 percent effective against hospitalizations and 82 percent effective at preventing ER and urgent care visits.

3)     Boosters are free of charge 

As was the case with the COVID-19 vaccines, Horizon members have no out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 booster shots.

4)     Booster shots are available throughout New Jersey

You can make a vaccine booster appointment at any existing vaccination location without a prescription. Locations include pharmacies, health centers, community clinics or your primary care physician. For more information on finding a vaccine booster location and making an appointment, visit the State of New Jersey’s COVID-19 Information Hub.

5)     If you are not immunocompromised, you can take a “mix and match” approach to boosters 

The CDC does not recommend that those who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) shot to get a booster dose of that vaccine. Rather, they recommend those adults get a booster shot of the more effective mRNA vaccines, Pfizer or Moderna, two months after the initial J&J dose. Generally speaking, those who received the primary vaccination series of Pfizer or Moderna can receive a booster of either mRNA vaccine five months after the second shot. For questions, talk with your doctor.

Keeping track of the evolving information on vaccines and boosters can be confusing. This chart, adapted from the CDC, provides a quick reference.

PfizerEveryone 12 years and older5 months after the primary vaccination series (after the second shot)

Ages 12-17: Pfizer

Adults: Pfizer or Moderna

 Everyone 5 years and older with moderate or severely compromised immune systems28 days after the second shotPfizer
ModernaAdults 18 years and older5 months after the primary vaccination series (after the second shot)Pfizer or Moderna
 Adults 18 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised28 days after the second shotModerna
Johnson and Johnson (J&J)Adults 18 years and older2 months after the first J&J vaccinationPfizer or Moderna recommended by the CDC, though the J&J booster is approved

*Note that the CDC refers to the 3rd shot for immunocompromised people as an additional primary shot rather than a booster shot.