Even if you’re “fully” vaccinated and boosted, you may be due for another COVID-19 vaccine shot soon. The FDA decided today to authorize a second booster dose for people over age 50.
The boosters should be available soon—after the FDA authorizes a vaccine for a given population or purpose, the CDC makes a recommendation about who should get it; only after that can vaccination programs administer the shots and be reimbursed for them by your insurance. So technically it will be a few days until you can get your second booster.
The CDC is expected to actually recommend the second booster, too,but it’s too early to say how they’ll phrase—for example, they could indicate people “should” or “may” get the second booster.
Who is this booster for?
The second booster is for:
- People who are aged 50 and older
- Certain people who are immunocompromised and are 12 and older
People in the second category include those who have received organ transplants or have a similarly compromised immune system function.
Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are authorized for use as second boosters, but Moderna is only available for people aged 18 and older.
When can I get a second booster dose?
The second booster is meant to be given at least four months after the first booster dose. This means that your vaccine sequence might look like this:
- First dose of an mRNA vaccine
- Three or four weeks later (depending on brand), the second dose
- Six months after that, your first booster
- Four months after the first booster, the second booster.
People who are immunocompromised will have a third dose as part of the primary series, and can then get two boosters at six and 10 months after that third shot.
People who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are recommended to get a booster dose at two months after the initial dose. They can also get a second booster four months after the first booster.
As to whether you should get a second booster dose? The evidence is limited. The FDA said in their press release that, “the known and potential benefits of a second COVID-19 vaccine booster dose with either of these vaccines outweigh their known and potential risks in these populations.” Experts disagree over how important a second booster is, and whether it’s better to get one right away or wait until we know another COVID surge is coming. If you have questions, talk to your doctor.