COVID-19 booster vaccines are now available to millions of Americans, but does that mean you have to get one to be considered fully vaccinated?
Qualifying as fully vaccinated is important because it may be necessary to travel, attend large events, or gain access to indoor businesses without a recent COVID-19 test. Additionally, companies with more than 100 employees are requiring workers to be fully vaccinated or routinely tested, thanks to a new OSHA regulation.
If you haven’t had a booster shot (or aren’t eligible for one), you shouldn’t panic. “Everyone is still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-shot series, like the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like the J & J vaccine / Janssen “, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While not having a booster won’t affect your ability to attend live sports games or travel to Europe, the CDC recommends that you get one once you are eligible to maximize protection against COVID-19.
Who is eligible for a booster shot depends on the type of vaccine you originally received.
If you received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for your first two injections, you may receive a booster if:
- 65 years or older
- 18 years or older with qualifying underlying health conditions (like cancer, diabetes, lung diseases, and more)
- Work in a high-risk environment where you are most likely to encounter COVID-19 (such as first responders, grocery/food workers, public transportation workers, and more)
- Or live in a high-risk environment, such as nursing homes
The CDC recommends waiting six months between the second injection and the booster dose of Pfizer or Moderna.
The recommendations are different if you received the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine. The CDC suggests that you should receive a booster shot if you are over 18 years old and it has been two months since your first injection.
You will have the option of receiving a second injection of J&J or one of the mRNA vaccines (either Pfizer or Moderna).