Frequently Asked Questions about when to BOOST


The recent guidance from the CDC is straightforward: Anyone 5 or older should receive a booster 5 months after their last dose.

People over the age of 50 and children 12 or older who are immunocompromised are eligible for a second booster 4 months after their last dose.

Here are answers to a few more nuanced questions about COVID-19 booster doses from our followers.

* Do I get my first booster now or wait? – Sharon from Blue Hill, ME

Now. Boosting now provides additional protection against infection and severe illness with few downsides. We know case counts are high right now. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrates boosters decrease the risk of symptomatic infection and greatly reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization, even with Omicron. The boosters we have today provide risk reduction against the currently circulating variants. The booster you don’t get provides ZERO additional protection should you experience an exposure or infection. People at high risk for complications should definitely remain up-to-date with recommended boosters for optimal protection.

It’s really hard to forecast the future. It’s possible that a new booster will be created, tested, manufactured, and distributed with better effectiveness than the current options. This will not happen for months at best. It’s also possible that a new variant will appear adding new forks to an already long and complicated pandemic. Get boosted now to maintain your protection against COVID-19.

* Should I boost my children now or wait until the fall? – Erin from Springfield, MO

Now. Pfizer boosters for kids 5 and older are available now. You may receive a Pfizer booster even if your primary series was Moderna. Children who should DEFINITELY receive a booster now include:

– Kids who live in the same house or spend time unmasked with a high-risk person
– Kids who are immunocompromised
– Kids who have not had a COVID-19 infection in the last 3 months
– Kids who will have lots of contacts over the summer in camps, on airplanes, or doing kid things

If you have questions about your specific situation, call your primary care provider to discuss.

* If I am eligible for a second booster, should I get it now or wait? – Elizabeth from College Station, TX

Now. People over the age of 50 and those who are immunocompromised have the highest risk of severe complications from COVID-19 including death. Receiving a second booster or fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine bumps up protection against these severe complications. Encouraging people to receive booster doses has become more important in recent weeks because of increasing cases in much of the United States as well as increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

* If I am going on vacation on [insert date here], when should I get the booster for the best protection? – Marilyn from Milwaukee, WI

At least 2 weeks before the trip but you don’t need to wait. Booster doses are very good at preventing serious complications from COVID-19 infection and that protection lasts for months. In the age of highly transmissible variants, up-to-date vaccination with three or more doses decreases the risk of infection but does not eliminate the risk. Adding additional layers of protection before and during your trip like masking indoors, decreasing your contacts, and avoiding poorly ventilated spaces can further decrease your risk for an infection that could disrupt your vacation.

Please get boosted now. Please keep sending us your questions!

Stay safe. Stay well!

Additional Resources:

How COVID-19 Boosters provide powerful protection against emerging variants from HHS

New England Journal of Medicine Booster Effectiveness Study Summary

Booster updates from Dear Pandemic on May 25th, 2022

When to boost from Dear Pandemic on May 7th, 2022

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