COVID-19 vaccine booster questions answered

Have questions about who should get the COVID-19 vaccine booster and when? We have answers.

Your COVID Booster Questions Answered

Patients ask healthcare providers a lot of questions and “what ifs” when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine boosters. Although some answers may be easy to give, we know that others may require a bit of research. So, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you answer both the easy and the thought-provoking questions your patients may have. 


Who is eligible to receive a booster dose in the United States?

On Friday, November 19, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized booster shots for all adults 18 and older who received the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine series or the Johnson & Johnson/Jansen single-dose vaccine at least six months ago.

For the latest updates on who is eligible, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine booster page.


Can or should anyone receive the booster dose earlier than the recommended period of time?

You can administer the booster dose up to four days ahead of the full six-month period. However, if the booster is given earlier than the six-month period, do not give your patient another booster at the six-month mark.


Can patients “mix and match” their vaccine series and booster dose?

Yes. As long as patients follow the eligibility guidelines listed on the CDC website for their vaccine series, they can receive any authorized booster. In addition, clinical trial data has shown that both homologous and heterologous boosters will increase your patient’s immune response.


Should an immunocompromised patient receive an additional primary dose or just the booster?

Suppose your patient is moderately or severely immune-compromised and received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series. In that case, they should receive an additional dose of the same mRNA vaccine 28 days after completing a primary series.

Patients who are 50 years or older or are 18 years or older and reside in long-term care settings should receive a booster six months after receiving their third dose of the vaccine.

Patients who are 18 to 49 years old and do not reside in a long-term care setting may receive a booster six months after receiving their third dose of the vaccine.


What occupations are considered at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure?
According to the CDC, people in the following occupations are at an increased risk:

  • First responders (healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
  • Education staff (teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
  • Food and agriculture workers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Corrections workers
  • U.S. Postal Service workers
  • Public transit workers
  • Grocery store workers

[H2] What happens if a booster dose is given too early or in error?

If you learn of a dosage error, you are required to report it to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

[H2] What side effects will patients experience when they receive their Covid-19 booster?

The side effects of a COVID-19 booster shot are similar to that of the regular vaccine, including:

  • fatigue
  • fever
  • headache
  • pain at the injection site

To date, patients have reported that these side effects were mild to moderate. However, while rare, it is possible that serious side effects could occur.


What should patients do if they lose their COVID-19 vaccine record card?

If your patient has lost the COVID-19 vaccine card, the best thing for them to do is to contact the location where they received their vaccinations. If they were not vaccinated at a pharmacy or doctor’s office, then they should contact their city or state health department.


Does “fully vaccinated” now include having a booster shot?

No. Patients are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson/Jansen vaccine.


If patients get a booster shot, do they still need to wear a mask?

Until we reach herd immunity, the CDC still advises that all vaccinated people continue wearing face masks and socially distance themselves in public spaces. However, people can safely unmask at small indoor gatherings if everyone is fully vaccinated.


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