Is a Second COVID-19 Booster Right for You?

Aug 9, 2022

Vaccines have had a positive effect on the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, reducing deaths and hospitalizations. As the virus has evolved and new variants have emerged, health officials have recommended booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines to combat waning immunity. Even as immunity waned, booster doses have led to fewer hospitalizations and deaths. Between April and December of 2021, there were .1 deaths per 100,000 people who were vaccinated with a booster dose. On the other hand, there were 7.8 deaths per 100,000 unvaccinated people.

Americans have had access to a COVID-19 vaccine for more than a year, and 66 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. In addition, 45 percent of the total population in the country has received a booster dose. As a second booster has been authorized for some groups of people, it is important to determine whether to go get another dose of the vaccine. Here is what you need to know about booster doses.

Who Needs a First Booster Shot?

COVID-19 vaccine boosters have been very effective and provide good protection against hospitalization and death. Health officials found that boosted individuals were 21 times less likely to die from COVID-19 during the Omicron surge and seven times less likely to be hospitalized compared to people who were not vaccinated. An initial booster dose is recommended for all eligible individuals, including the following:

  • People over age 12 who received primary doses of Pfizer-BioNTech. Children ages 12 through 17 must receive a Pfizer-BioNTech booster, while adults aged 18 and older may choose any kind of booster.

  • People over age 18 who received primary doses of the Moderna vaccine. People who initially received a Moderna vaccine can choose from any kind of booster.

  • People over age 18 who received an initial dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. People who received this vaccine can choose from any booster.

Who Can Get a Second Booster?

The FDA authorized a second booster dose in March 2022 for some individuals to improve protection against COVID-19. The second booster was initially authorized for people with a weakened immune system. The FDA authorized the second booster for certain groups, including the following:

  • Older individuals aged 50 and above who have received primary and booster doses of any COVID-19 vaccine.

  • People ages 12 and older who are immunocompromised. The FDA defines this group as people who have received a whole organ transplant or have a similar level of weakened immune system. Only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be given as a booster to children ages 12 through 17.

  • People ages 18 and older who received a Johnson & Johnson initial vaccine and booster dose.

When Should I Get a Booster Dose?

People who are eligible for a second booster dose of any vaccine can do so if it has been at least four months since their first booster. Health officials recommend that everyone get a first booster dose. However, people who are eligible for a second booster dose may be able to wait before getting it. Individuals who are immunocompromised or live with someone who is should get a second booster dose soon. People who have a higher chance of getting infected at work or in daily life should consider getting a second dose when they can. On the other hand, people who have had COVID-19 in the last three months may choose to wait. People who are not in these risk groups may decide to wait until the fall to get another booster when cases could rise again.

“The COVID-19 vaccine provides effective protection against hospitalization and death from COVID-19,” says David De La Rosa, an LPN at Horizon Ridge Nursing and Rehab. “Getting another booster dose can be an important additional layer of protection, especially for elderly individuals and those with underlying conditions.”

The COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, as do vaccine recommendations to keep people protected. It is important to discuss your risk factors with your physician to determine whether a second booster is best for you.