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Who is Eligible for a COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot?

October 18, 2021

What You Need To Know

COVID-19 Vaccine booster shots are available for the following Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine recipients who completed their initial series at least 6 months ago are:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work in high-risk settings
  • Age 18+ who live in high-risk settings

Data Supporting Need For A Booster Shot

Studies show that after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus may decrease over time and be less able to protect against the Delta variant. Although COVID-19 vaccination for adults aged 65 years and older remains effective in preventing severe disease, recent data suggests vaccination is less effective at preventing infection or milder illness with symptoms. Emerging evidence also shows that among healthcare and other frontline workers, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infection is decreasing over time. This lower effectiveness is likely due to the combination of decreasing protection as time passes since getting vaccinated (e.g., waning immunity) as well as the greater infectiousness of the Delta variant.

Data from a small clinical trial shows that a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished their primary series 6 months earlier. With an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant.

Booster Shots Are Only Available For Some Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Recipients

Only certain populations initially vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can get a booster shot at this time.

Older Adults & 50-64 Year Old People With Medical Conditions

People aged 65 years and older and adults 50-64 with underlying medical conditions should get a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, and can also increase for adults of any age with underlying medical conditions.

Long-Term Care Setting Residents Aged 18 Years & Older

Residents aged 18 years and older of long-term care settings should get a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Because residents in long-term care settings live closely together in group settings and are often older adults with underlying medical conditions, they are at increased risk of infection and severe illness from COVID-19.

People With Medical Conditions Aged 18-49 Years

People aged 18-49 years with underlying medical conditions may get a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine based on their individual benefits and risks. Adults aged 18-49 years who have underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. However, that risk is likely not as high as it would be for adults aged 50 years and older who have underlying medical conditions. People aged 18-49 years who have underlying medical conditions may get a booster shot after considering their individual risks and benefits. This recommendation may change in the future as more data becomes available.

Employees And Residents At Increased Risk For COVID-19 Exposure & Transition

People aged 18-64 years at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may get a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine based on their individual benefits and risks. Adults aged 18-64 years who work or reside in certain settings (e.g., healthcare, schools, correctional facilities, homeless shelters) may be at increased risk of being exposed to COVID-19, which could be spreading where they work or reside. Since that risk can vary across settings and based on how much COVID-19 is spreading in a community, people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may get a booster shot after considering their individual risks and benefits. This recommendation may change in the future as more data becomes available.

  • Example of workers who may get the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots
    • First responders (e.g., healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
    • Education staff (e.g., teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
    • Food and agriculture workers
    • Manufacturing workers
    • Corrections workers
    • US Postal Service workers
    • Public transit workers
    • Grocery store workers

Find A COVID-19 Vaccine

Find a COVID-19 Vaccine: Search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.

  • Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination walk-ins or appointments are available
  • Contact your state or local health department for more information

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster if I am NOT in one of the recommended groups?
    • Additional populations may be recommended to receive a booster shot as more data becomes available. The COVID-19 vaccines approved and authorized in the United States continue to be effective at reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Experts are looking at all available data to understand how well the vaccines are working for different populations. This includes looking at how new variants, like Delta, affect vaccine effectiveness.
  • What should people do who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine do?
    • The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) & CDC’s recommendations are bound by what the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authorization allows. At this time, the Pfizer-BioNTech booster authorization only applies to people whose primary series was Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. People in the recommended groups who got the Moderna or J&J/Janssen vaccine may need a booster shot. More data on the effectiveness and safety of Moderna and J&J/Janssen booster shots are expected soon. With those data in hand, CDC will keep the public informed with a timely plan for Moderna and J&J/Janssen booster shots.
  • If we need a booster shot, does that mean that the vaccines aren’t working?
    • No. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, event against the widely circulating Delta variant. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection, especially among certain populations, against mild and moderate disease.
  • What are the risks to getting a booster shot?
    • So far, reactions reported after getting the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot were similar to that of the 2-shot primary series. Fatigue and pain at the injection site were the most commonly reported side effects, and overall, most side effects were mild to moderate. However, as with the 2-shot primary series, serious side effects are rare, but may occur.
  • Am I still considered “fully vaccinated” if I don’t get a booster shot?
    • Yes. Everyone is still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-shot series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the J&J/Janssen vaccine.
  • What is the difference between a booster shot and an additional dose?
    • A booster shot is administered when a person has completed their vaccine series and protection against the virus has decreased over time. Additional doses are administered to people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. This additional dose of an mRNA-COVID-19 vaccine is intended to improve immunocompromised people’s response to their initial vaccine series.
  • Your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card & Booster Shots
    • At your first vaccination appointment, you should have received a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received, and where you received it. Bring this vaccination card to your booster shot vaccination appointment. If you did not receive a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card at your first appointment, contact the vaccination sit where you got your first shot or your state health departments to find out how you can get a card.

To learn more, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html#long-term-care

How Long-Term Care Facilities Can Help Monitor COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

October 8, 2021

What Long-Term Care Facility Administrators Should Know

Staff and residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities are among the first groups to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. As an administrator, your and your staff’s participation in vaccine safety monitoring is essential to ensuring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. No safety concerns have been detected to date, but ongoing monitoring will continue. The CDC has expanded safety surveillance through new systems and additional information sources, as well as by scaling up existing safety monitoring systems.

What is V-Safe?

V-safe is a new smartphone-based tool that helps CDC monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines through the use of text messaging and web surveys. These health check-ins inform CDC how the participant is feeling after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on the answers, someone from CDC may call to check on the participant and get more information. V-safe will also remind the participant to get a second dose of the vaccine if they need one. V-safe enrollment and check-ins are quick and easy and can be done on a smartphone. V-safe cannot schedule vaccination appointments. If a participant needs to schedule, reschedule, or cancel a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, they should contact either the location that set up their appointment or local vaccination provider.

  • All long-term care staff members who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are encouraged to enroll in V-safe.
  • Long-term care residents can also enroll in V-safe. Healthcare providers and caregivers may assist residents with enrolling. However, providers or caregivers should not complete check-ins for residents.
  • At this time, only people with smartphones will be able to participate in V-safe monitoring. Long-term care residents may be less likely to have access to a smartphone and, therefore, may not be able to report side effects or adverse events through V-safe. Long-term care staff should monitor recently vaccinated residents for any potential adverse events and report those events to VAERS.

What is VAERS?

VAERS is a national vaccine safety monitoring system that helps CDC and the FDA monitor health problems after vaccination. VAERS is not designed to determine if a vaccine a health problem but is especially useful for detecting unusual or unexpected patterns of adverse event reporting that might indicate a possible safety problem with a vaccine. Residents, caregivers, healthcare providers, and nursing home staff can report medical events or health problems following vaccinations to VAERS, even if they aren’t sure the vaccine was the cause.

  • Anyone can report health problems that happen after vaccination to VAERS.
  • In general, report any medical event or health problem after COVID-19 vaccination that is concerning to you, your staff, or your residents.
  • It is especially important to report any problem that results in hospitalization, significant disability, or death.
  • VAERS does NOT provide treatment or medical advice. If a vaccine recipient needs medical advice, please contact a healthcare provider.

Healthcare providers are encouraged to report to VAERS any adverse event they think is medically important or clinically significant, even if they think the event might not be related to the vaccine. However, healthcare providers are required to report to VAERS the following adverse events, in accordance with the emergency use authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Vaccine administration errors, whether or not associated with an adverse event
  • Serious adverse events (as defined by federal law), regardless of causality, including:
    • Death
    • A life-threatening event
    • Inpatient hospitalization or prolongation of existing hospitalization
    • Persistent or significant incapacity or substantial disruption of the ability to conduct normal life functions
    • Congenital anomaly/birth defect
    • An important medical event that based on appropriate medical judgement may jeopardize the individual and may require medical or surgical intervention to prevent one of the outcomes listed above
    • Cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C or MIS-A)
    • Cases of COVID-19 that result in hospitalization or death

To learn more, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/downloads/ltcf-help-monitor-covid-19-vaccine-safety-508.pdf

COVID-19 County Check Tool: Understanding Community Transmission Levels in Your County

October 4, 2021

COVID-19 spreads easily between people. CDC tracks how much COVID-19 is spreading as well as likely people are to be exposed to it with a measurement known as the “level of community transmission”. You can use the COVID-19 County Check Tool for a snapshot of your county’s level of community transmission over the past 7 days. The tool also displays guidance on masking based on how the virus is spreading in your county.

How CDC Measures the County Level of Community Transmission

CDC looks at two numbers – total new cases and percent positivity – to determine the level of community transmission.

  • Total New Cases refers to a county’s rate of new COVID-19 infections, reported over the past 7 days, per every 100,000 residents. To calculate this number, CDC divides the total number of new infections by the total population in that county. CDC multiplies this number by 100,000.
  • Percent Positivity refers to the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in a county over the past 7 days. This number is based on reports from states on a specific type of test known as a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT). To calculate this number, CDC divides the number of positive tests by the total number of NAATs performed in that county. CDC multiplies this number by 100 to calculate the percentage of all tests that were positive. Learn more at Calculating SARS-CoV-2 Laboratory Test Percent Positivity.

A higher number of total new cases and a higher percent positivity correspond with a higher level of community transmission, as shown below. If the values for each of these two metric differ (for example, if one indicated moderate and the other low), then the higher of the two should be used to make decisions about mask use in a county.

County Level of Community Transmission and Masking

People and local decision-makers should consider the county level of community transmission when making decisions about masking. Although COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are highly effective at limiting the spread of COVID-19 and preventing severe illness, vaccination in some parts of the country remains low. Layered prevention strategies – like masking along with getting vaccinated – can help further reduce the spread of COVID-19. CDC’s updated guidance, issued in July 2021, advises using county community transmission levels over the last 7 days to help determine who should mask and under what circumstances. See below for a quick reference on when to mask:

County Level of Community TransmissionGuidance
High or Substantial TransmissionEveryone should wear a mask in public, indoor settings
Moderate or Low TransmissionUnvaccinated people should wear a mask in public, indoor settings

Mask requirements vary from place to place. Make sure you follow local laws, rules, regulation, or guidance. To learn more, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/aboutcovidcountycheck/index.html

Comparative Effectiveness of Moderna, Pfizer, and Janssen Vaccines in Preventing COVID-19 Hospitalizations

September 27, 2021

What We Know

Two 2-dose mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) and a 1-dose viral vector vaccine (from Janssen [Johnson & Johnson]) are currently used in the United states.

What is New

Among US adults without immunocompromising conditions, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 hospitalization during March 11-August 15, 2021, was higher for the Moderna vaccine (93%) than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (88%) and the Janssen vaccine (71%).

Implications for Public Health Practice

Although these real-world data suggest some variation in levels of protection by vaccine, all FDA-approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines provide substantial protection against COVID-19 hospitalization.

Two-dose regiments of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccines provided a high level of protection against COVID-19 hospitalizations in a real-world evaluation at 21 hospitals during March-August 2021. VE against COVID-19 hospitalization for Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines was 93% and 88%, respectively, whereas the single-dose Janssen vaccine had someone lower VE at 71%. Persons vaccinated with Janssen also had lower postvaccination anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels than did recipients of mRNA vaccines. Although an immunologic correlate or protection has not been established for COVID-19 vaccines, antibody titers after infection and vaccination have been associated with protection (8). These real-world data suggests that the 2-dose Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine regimens provide more protection than does the 1-dose Janssen viral vector vaccine regimen. Although the Janssen vaccine had lower observed VE, 1 dose of Janssen vaccine still reduced risk for COVID-19-associated hospitalization by 71%.

The findings in this report are subject to at least six limitations. First, this analysis did not consider children, immunocompromised adults, or VE against COVID-19 that did not result in hospitalization. Second, the Cis for the Janssen VE estimates were wide because of the relatively small number of patients who received this vaccine. Third, follow-up time was limited to approximately 29 weeks since receipt of full vaccination, and further surveillance of VE over time is warranted. Fourth, although VE estimates were adjusted for relevant potential confounders, residual confounding is possible. Fifth, product-specific VE by variant, including against Delta variants (B.1.617.2 and AY sublineages), was not evaluated. Finally, antibody levels were measured at only a single time point 2-6 weeks after vaccination and changes in antibody response over time as well as cell-mediated immune responses were not assessed.

To learn more, visit https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7038e1.htm?s_cid=mm7038e1_x

I’ve Already Had COVID-19. Do I Need the Vaccine?

September 17, 2021


You should get a COVID-19 vaccine, even if you have already had COVID-19. Research has not yet shown how long you are protected from getting COVID-19 again after you recover from COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccinations also help protect you even if you’ve already had the virus.


Evidence is emerging that people get better protection by being fully vaccinated compared with having COVID-19. One study showed that unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than two times as likely than fully vaccinated people to get COVID-19 again. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected. If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your healthcare professional if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.


Experts are still learning more about how long vaccines protect against COVID-19 in real-world conditions. CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available. To learn more, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/prepare-for-vaccination.html

Find COVID-19 Vaccine Near You

July 22, 2021

Find a COVID-19 Vaccine: Search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you in the U.S. 

There are several ways you can look for vaccination providers near you in the United States. 

  • Visit Vaccines.gov to find vaccination providers near you. In some states, information may be limited while more U. S. vaccination providers and pharmacies are being added. Learn more about COVID-19 Vaccination Locations on Vaccines.gov
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233 to find vaccine locations near you in the United States. 
  • Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination appointments are available. Find out which pharmacies are participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program
  • Contact your state health department to find additional vaccination locations in the area. 
  • Check your local news outlets. They may have information on how to get a vaccination appointment. 

COVID-19 Viral Testing Tool

July 16, 2021

The COVID-19 Viral Testing Tool is an interactive web tool designed to help both healthcare providers and individuals understand COVID-19 testing options. This tool helps healthcare providers quickly access the most relevant, actionable information to determine what type(s) of COVID-19 testing they should recommend to patients. The tool helps individuals determine what type of test they should seek. After test results are in, the tool can help interpret test results and guide next steps.  

The online, mobile-friendly tool asks a series of questions, and provides recommended actions and resources based on the user’s responses. 

To use the COVID-19 Viral Testing Tool click here: Testing | CDC 

Myths and Facts About COVID-19 Vaccines

July 9, 2021

Now that there are authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, accurate vaccine information is critical and can help stop common myths and rumors. Read about some common myths here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html  

How do I know which COVID-19 vaccine information are accurate?  

It can be difficult to know which sources of information you can trust. Before considering vaccine information on the Internet, check that the information comes from a credible source and is updated on a regular basis. Learn more about finding credible vaccine information.   

The COVID-19 Travel Planner

July 2, 2021

The COVID-19 Travel Planner is a centralized communication platform that travelers can search to find COVID-19 information for the state, local, territorial, and tribal communities they’re passing through and for their destinations. This information will help travelers make informed decisions, protect themselves, and reduce transmission before, during and after they travel. Learn how you can promote Travel Planner on your social media platforms and website. 

Check Travel Planner for state, local, tribal, and territorial government restrictions before traveling. 

How Did COVID-19 Get It’s Name?

June 25, 2021

On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease: coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated COVID-19. ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. The virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is a coronavirus. The word corona means crown and refers to the appearance that coronaviruses get from the spike proteins sticking out of them.