Common questions related to COVID-19 vaccine booster doses.
COVID-19 booster frequently asked questions
Table of Contents
What is a booster?
Do I need a booster?
COVID-19 vaccines are very effective in lowering the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. They even work against the Delta variant. The CDC has found that this protection may wear off over time. Boosters keep the vaccines effective for longer.
Am I fully vaccinated without a booster?
You are fully vaccinated without a booster if it has been at least 2 weeks since you got your first J&J shot or your second Pfizer or Moderna shot, according to the CDC
Is the booster free?
Yes, the booster is free. You do not need to pay, have ID, or have health insurance to get a booster.
If I 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, even 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.
Who is eligible to get a booster?
Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 boosters are available to anyone ages 18 and older. You’re eligible for a booster if:
- Pfizer & Moderna: It’s been at least 6 months since your second dose
- Johnson & Johnson: It’s been at least 2 months since your first dose
You can mix and match vaccines. You do not need to get the same vaccine brand for your booster as your original COVID-19 vaccination.
Use VaxFinder to find a pharmacy or other location to get your booster.
Can I mix and match my booster dose?
Yes. CDC recommendations allow for mixing and matching of different COVID-19 booster doses, and eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. The Administration recommends that residents with questions about which booster is right for them should ask their health care provider for advice.
Do I need to be a Massachusetts resident to get a booster? What if I lived somewhere else when I got my initial COVID-19 vaccine doses?
You can get a booster in Massachusetts if you live, work or study here.
What if I don’t know when I received my last COVID-19 vaccine shot?
To learn when you are eligible for a booster dose, you should consult your CDC vaccination record card for the date of your second COVID-19 vaccination. If you do not have your vaccination card, contact your primary care provider or the retail pharmacy where you were first vaccinated. If that is not possible, learn how to obtain your vaccination record, which could take up to 2 weeks, by visiting www.mass.gov/myvaxrecord.
How can I find out which vaccine I received?
If you do not have your vaccination card, contact your primary care provider or the retail pharmacy where you were first vaccinated. If that is not possible, learn how to obtain your vaccination record, which could take up to 2 weeks, by visiting www.mass.gov/myvaxrecord.
Getting a booster
How do I get a booster?
There are hundreds of locations across the Commonwealth for residents to receive a COVID-19 booster shot.
In order to find a convenient location for getting a COVID-19 Booster:
- Visit the VaxFinder tool at vaxfinder.mass.gov for a list of locations to receive a booster. Residents will be able to narrow results to search for locations that are offering the booster of their choice.
- If you are unable to use VaxFinder, or have difficulty accessing the internet, please contact the COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line (Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) by calling 2-1-1 and following the prompts. The COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line is available in English and Spanish and has translators available in approximately 100 additional languages.
Do I need to show my vaccine card or other proof of being fully vaccinated to get my booster?
If you have your vaccine card it is helpful so that your booster dose can be added to it, but you do not need to show your CDC vaccination card to get your booster. You will be asked to self-attest that you meet eligibility requirements such as age, health conditions, or occupation.
There are no ID, or health insurance requirements. Your vaccinator may choose to look up your vaccine records to confirm the type of vaccine you received before.
I got vaccinated at a MassVax site, where do I go to get my booster dose?
You can get a booster shot anywhere they are available including your primary care provider, a retail pharmacy or a community vaccination clinic. Or you can use VaxFinder to find a location.
Can I just walk-in or do I need to book an appointment?
Walk-ins and appointments will be available at retail pharmacies, however, residents are encouraged to book an appointment via VaxFinder or directly with their provider.
Can I book an appointment by calling 2-1-1?
Yes. Individuals without access to the internet or who are unable to schedule their appointment online can call the COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line toll free 2-1-1 or (877) 211-6277 for assistance with setting up an appointment.
Can I get my booster vaccine at home?
Yes. If you have trouble getting to a vaccine clinic, you can use the In-Home Vaccination Program. Visit http://mass.gov/vaccinesathome for more information.
Should people expect to get sick after the third dose?
Current data indicates that side effects following the additional dose are similar to those after the second dose. Common side effects are generally mild such as localized pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, and fatigue, headache, and low-grade fever. Serious adverse events are rare.
Can I get a flu vaccination at the same time as my COVID-19 booster?
Yes. You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccinations like a flu or shingles vaccine at the same time or close together, according to the CDC.
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