If I haven’t had a booster shot yet, am I considered unvaccinated?


A: If you are eligible for a booster shot and haven’t gotten one yet, you are considered NOT ‘up-to-date’ on your COVID-19 vaccine series.

TL; DR If you are not ‘up-to-date’ this impacts your level of immune protection and it’s also recommended you follow the same quarantine protocol as those who are not vaccinated. Boost up to maximize your protection and not have to stay home after you are exposed!

The primary series of the COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death in those who get infected. Unfortunately, their ability to protect you from getting infected and developing mild to moderate illness has been shown to decrease over time and protection provided by the primary vaccine series is less robust against the omicron variant than previous variants. Luckily though, booster doses have been shown to increase antibody levels and improve protection against getting infected as well as severe disease, even with the omicron variant.

For these reasons, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following regarding booster doses:

♦️ If you are aged 12+ years and completed your primary vaccination series with either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine *at least 5 months ago* or with Johnson and Johnson vaccine *more than 2 months ago*, you should get a booster shot with an mRNA vaccine (i.e., Pfizer for those aged 12+ years or Moderna for those aged 18+ years).

If you were fully vaccinated and have reached the point that you are eligible for a booster dose, but haven’t gotten boosted yet, CDC considers you not ‘up-to-date’ on your COVID-19 vaccines series. Importantly, if you are not ‘up-to-date’ it is recommended that you follow the *same quarantine protocol* as those who are NOT vaccinated.

Specifically, CDC recommends that people who are exposed and unvaccinated OR not ‘up-to-date’ on the COVID-19 vaccine series:

♦️ Quarantine (i.e., stay home) and wear a well-fitting mask around others (including those you live with) for 5 days,

♦️ Continue to wear a mask around other for an additional 5 days,

♦️ Get tested on day 5 if possible, and

♦️ Isolate yourself from others if you develop symptoms or test positive during this period.

In contrast, if you are either fully vaccinated and not yet due for a booster dose or are ‘up-to-date’ (i.e., got boosted once eligible) you do not need to quarantine, but should still wear a mask around others for 10 days, monitor for symptoms and begin isolation if you become ill or test positive. As an FYI, getting boosted when eligible, brings you ‘up-to-date’ as soon as you get your booster dose (i.e., no two week waiting period like the primary series)!

Overall, being ‘up-to-date’ on your COVID-19 vaccine series not only boosts the immune protection you gained after receiving the primary series, it also means you won’t have the same restrictions on going to work or school after being exposed as long as you wear a well-fitting mask and get tested. Thank you Lisa from Appleton, WI for asking about this!

For our past post on waning immune protection in the face of omicron, see here.

For more info on booster shot recommendations from CDC:

COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots

Stay Up to Date with Your Vaccines

COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised People

For more info on what quarantine protocols are recommended based on vaccination status, see here.

For more info on the latest isolation guidelines which *do not* vary by vaccination status, see our recent post on this here.

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