In the Spotlight
Questions about COVID-19 Boosters
Boosters are now available to millions of Veterans
Millions of Veterans who got the COVID-19 vaccine are now eligible for a booster shot. COVID-19 vaccines continue to work well to prevent severe illness and death. A booster can help people whose immune response may have weakened over time stay fully protected. The booster is meant to help the immune system continue to respond quickly if exposed to COVID-19.
Here are answers to 5 questions you may have about these boosters:
1. Who can get a booster?
If you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least 2 months ago, CDC recommends adults should get the booster shot. If you got your second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine at least 6 months ago, you’re eligible for a booster if you're part of one of these groups:
If you're at least 65 years old
If you’re at least 18 years old and you live in a long-term care facility
If you're at least 18 years old and you have an underlying medical condition
If you’re at least 18 years old and you work or live in a high-risk setting
You can only get a booster shot if you completed your primary vaccination series. If you haven’t completed your primary vaccination series yet, we can help. Vaccines are widely available at VA health facilities. Find out how to get your vaccine at VA.
2. Which vaccine can I get for my booster?
At this time, the CDC and FDA have authorized boosters for all 3 authorized vaccines. Based on new CDC recommendations, you can choose which vaccine to get for your booster. But not all VA health facilities will have all 3 vaccines. If you have questions about which booster to get, reach out to your health care team.
3. How do I get a booster at VA?
If you're eligible for a booster based on your VA health record, we'll contact you when we have a vaccine for you. If we don't contact you, you can call or send a Secure Message. Your health care team can tell you if you’re eligible for a booster and help you schedule an appointment or find out if there’s a walk-in vaccine clinic near you.
4. What are the risks to getting a booster shot?
So far, reactions reported after getting the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot were similar to those experienced in the 2-shot primary series. Fatigue and pain at the injection site were the most reported side effects. Most side effects were mild to moderate. Like the 2-shot primary series, serious side effects are rare, but may occur.
5. Is there a new standard for 'fully vaccinated?'
No. The definition of “fully vaccinated” currently does not include or require booster shots. It focuses on the primary vaccine series, which has the strongest evidence for protecting you from COVID-19.
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