(NEXSTAR) – Booster shots against COVID-19 are now available for millions of Americans, but does that mean you need to get one to be considered fully vaccinated?
Qualifying as fully vaccinated is important because it can be required to travel, attend large events, or get access to indoor businesses without a recent COVID-19 test. Also, companies with more than 100 employees are requiring workers to be fully vaccinated or submit to routine testing, thanks to a new OSHA regulation.
If you haven’t gotten a booster shot (or aren’t eligible to get one), there’s no need to panic. “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,” 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 you get one once you’re eligible to maximize protection against COVID-19.
Who is eligible for a booster shot depends on the type of vaccine you received originally.
If you got Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine for your first two shots, you can get a booster if you are:
- 65 or older
- 18 or older with qualifying underlying health conditions (like cancer, diabetes, lung disease, and more)
- Work in a high-risk setting where you are more likely to encounter COVID-19 (like first responders, grocery/food workers, public transit workers and more)
- Or live in a high-risk setting, like nursing homes
The CDC recommends waiting six months between your second shot and your booster dose for Pfizer or Moderna.
The recommendations are different if you received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC suggests you should get a booster shot if you’re over the age of 18 and it’s been two months since your first shot. You’ll have the choice of getting a second J&J shot or one of the mRNA vaccines (either Pfizer or Moderna).