Which COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Should You Get?

Aug 9, 2022

COVID-19 vaccines have been available for more than a year and have already had a major impact on fighting the virus. By December 2021, about 205 million people in the United States were fully vaccinated, including nearly 50 million seniors over the age of 65. Despite the headway being made against the disease, it continues to rage throughout the world, especially with the introduction of new viral variants like Delta and Omicron.

As the virus continues to evolve, health officials have urged people to get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to keep their immune response strong. While immunity can begin to wane over time, initial evidence shows a booster can improve immunity, even against new variants. If you have not yet received a booster shot, you may wonder which is the right choice for you, especially as vaccine effectiveness is constantly studied and updated. Here is what you should know about getting a booster shot.

mRNA Vaccines

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are both mRNA vaccines and are administered in two doses. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is recommended for any eligible individual over age five, while Moderna is recommended only for adults over age 18. Moderna booster doses are recommended for fully-vaccinated adults over age 18, while Pfizer-BioNTech boosters are recommended for 16-year-olds and older. A booster dose can be given at least six months after the second dose.

Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen Vaccine

The Johnson and Johnson Janssen vaccine is a viral vector vaccine given in a single dose. It uses a different, modified virus to deliver the vaccine and trigger an immune response to produce antibodies against COVID-19. It is recommended for people 18 years and older. A person who received this vaccine may get a booster dose at least two months after being fully vaccinated.

Picking a Booster

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of all three recommended vaccines for booster doses, regardless of which vaccine was initially administered. This so-called “mix-and-match” approach allows individuals to choose any brand of vaccine they wish for a booster. This method is more convenient, and it may provide additional protection as well. One early study found that mixing vaccine types may provide additional strong protection against the disease.

“It is important to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster if you are eligible,” says Sarah Hilton, a registered nurse. “Whatever kind of booster you choose to get will help improve your protection against the virus.”

Johnson and Johnson Vaccine Safety

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced a preference for the mRNA vaccines over Johnson and Johnson after considering side effects and efficacy of all three vaccines. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been linked to rare side effects, including blood clots and Guillain-Barre syndrome, though experts say the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks of these side effects. Despite a preference for the mRNA vaccines, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is still approved for use as a primary vaccine and a booster dose.

Boosters for Immunocompromised Individuals<

Booster doses have been advised for fully-vaccinated adults and older teenagers, but some individuals may need even more protection. For certain people with compromised immune systems, an additional primary dose is recommended before receiving a booster dose. People with a weakened immune system should receive a third mRNA dose at least 28 days after their first two doses using the same brand of vaccine as the initial regimen. A booster dose can then be given six months after the third dose.

As COVID-19 continues to infect people globally, it is important to take every precaution to protect yourself from the virus. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster will give you the most protection possible. Talk with your doctor about booster options and choose whichever dose will bring you the most benefit.