Updated November 19, 2021, please review for the latest booster dose guidance

Philadelphia has one of the highest rates of routine immunizations in the entire United States. Vaccines for measles and whooping cough and meningitis protect us every day. And many of those vaccines require a booster dose to make sure that we stay protected.

The COVID vaccines are doing much of the same work as those other vaccines. They protect us from catching COVID-19, they keep it milder if we do catch it, and they keep people from dying. New research has shown that, over time, COVID vaccines might need a booster, too.

On November 19, 2021, the CDC made everyone 18 and older who has completed their COVID vaccine series eligible to get a booster dose. People older than 50 are recommended to get a booster dose.

People who received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can get a booster dose six months after their second dose.

People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get a booster dose of Moderna vaccine two months after they got their shot.

If it’s been more than six months or two months, that’s ok! Getting a booster dose now will still work to turbocharge your immune system against COVID.

It’s important to remember that some people with certain immunosuppressing conditions who were vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna should get an additional dose four weeks after their second dose.

Yes, this is confusing. Here’s a chart to help explain the situation. Check the column of the vaccine you got for recommendations on if you should get a booster dose or not. And if you haven’t gotten your vaccine yet, go get it today!

COVID vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your family. They are the best way to avoid being hospitalized or dying. They are the best way to help end this pandemic. If you’re eligible for a booster dose, get it. If you’re eligible for a vaccine, get it.

Q: What is a booster?

A: A booster is an additional dose of vaccine that helps your body’s immune system to be ready in case you get exposed to a particular disease, like COVID. Many vaccines that we get throughout our lives require booster doses. Most people know they need to get a tetanus shot every once in a while; the Tdap vaccine you’ll get is a booster. It helps your body’s immune system to be ready in case you get exposed to tetanus.

Q: Why do I need a COVID booster dose?

A: Booster doses help your body’s immune system to be ready in case you get exposed to COVID and can help keep a case of COVID from becoming severe.

Q: Where can I get a COVID booster dose?

A: Booster doses are available wherever COVID vaccine is available. Check www.phila.gov/vaccine or www.vaccines.gov or call 215-685-5488 to find the nearest vaccine clinic.

Q: What side effects should I expect if I get a COVID booster dose?

A: We anticipate that side effects from booster doses would be similar to those from the initial vaccine doses. We will be watching the data and literature closely for any reports of worsening side effects, but typically boosters elicit similar reactions to those of the primary series of a vaccine.

Q: Does it cost anything to get a COVID booster?

A: There is no cost to get a booster dose of COVID vaccine. You will not be charged a copay or administration fee. If you have insurance, your provider may charge your insurance company, but you shouldn’t have to pay anything when you get your dose.

Q: Do I need to show ID to get a COVID booster?

A: No, but you do need to show your vaccine card or a photo of your vaccine card on your phone to verify that you have completed your vaccine series. If you have lost your vaccine card, you can request your full vaccine record by visiting https://bit.ly/philavaxrecordrequest. People who have laminated their vaccine card can still use it! If you go to a City clinic, our staff will place a sticker to show that you have received your booster dose directly on the laminate. Many clinics will be able to replace your card altogether.

Q: Do I need a booster to be considered fully vaccinated?

A: No, having your first and second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or just one dose of Johnson & Johnson will continue to be considered fully vaccinated.

Q: Does this mean that the vaccine has been less effective in general and against Delta?

A: Many other vaccines require booster doses to maintain maximum effectiveness has immunity can naturally wane over time. It is unknown if waning effectiveness is a natural phenomenon or related to the Delta variant.