What is a Booster Shot?

A booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine that helps to boost your immunity as it starts to wear off over time. In context to COVID-19, this means that getting an additional dose of the vaccine will help your body stay strong in fighting off the virus and other variants. 

Why should I get a booster shot?

Besides getting boosted immunity to the virus, if you stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines–you do not need to quarantine. This is a huge perk if you are a busy college student.

 

When Can I Get My Booster?

Pfizer

First Booster
(Third Dose)

Who: Everyone 12+*
When: At least 5 months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccine series.
*Teens 12-17 can only get Pfizer as a booster shot and cannot mix-and-match. mRNA boosters are recommended in most situations.

Moderna

First Booster
(Third Dose)

Who: Everyone 18+*
When:
At least 5 months after completing your initial vaccine series.
*mRNA boosters are recommended in most situations.

Johnson & Johnson

First Booster
(Second Dose)

Who: Everyone 18+*
When: At least 2 months after receiving your J&J vaccine.
*A J&J booster shot may be recommended if you had severe reaction to the mRNA vaccines. Contact Ask-A-Nurse if you have questions.

Second Booster
(Fourth Dose)

Who: Everyone 50+ or immunocompromised*
When: At least 4 months after first booster.
*mRNA boosters are recommended in most situations.

Second Booster
(Fourth Dose)

Who: Everyone 50+ or immunocompromised*
When: At least 4 months after first booster.
*mRNA boosters are recommended in most situations.

Second Booster
(Third Dose)

Who: Everyone 18+*
When: At least 4 months after first booster.
*Second booster for J&J is available to those 18-49 only if they got J&J as their initial and first booster.

Side Effects

The side effects of a booster vaccine are the same as getting your primary vaccine doses. The most common side effects of booster shots are pain at the injection site and fatigue.

Experiencing side effects means the vaccine is doing its job by building up your immune system response. Side effects can affect your ability to do daily activities but should go away in a few days. 

 

Common side effects include: 

  • Pain, swelling, or redness around the injection site 
  • Fever 
  • Fatigue  
  • Headache 
  • Chills  
  • Muscle pain 
  • Nausea 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I mix & match my vaccines?

An individual who receives a second or third dose different than their initial vaccine, will be “mixing and matching” their vaccine series. CDC now allows for eligible individuals to choose which vaccine they would like to receive as a booster. 

In most situations, mRNA vaccines are preferred for booster shots. However, if you had a severe reaction from an mRNA vaccine Johnson & Johnson may be recommended. Contact Ask-A-Nurse for more information.

Where can I get my COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines are offered nearly everywhere from your local grocery store to your favorite pharmacy.

If you are looking to receive a particular vaccine, you may need to call around to local clinics to see what vaccine types they have on hand.

What if I recently had COVID-19 or have been exposed to COVID-19?

To rule out COVID-19 symptoms vs. vaccine side effects, it would be best to wait until you have completed your isolation or quarantine period. For more questions reach out to Ask-A-Nurse.

What should I expect during my COVID-19 vaccine?

For some, it may have been a while since you last received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Check out our Wellness Blog to help refresh your memory on what to do before, what happens during and after your COVID-19 vaccine.

Can I get my booster shot on-campus?

COVID-19 vaccines are offered daily via walk-in at Health & Wellness Services upstairs in the clinic IWC 222 M–F 10–11:30AM & 2:30–4PM. Please bring your student ID and insurance information with you. Don’t forget to self-report your vaccine! 

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Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson graduated in 2020 with a degree in Art: I-Design. As a student, she worked with the University Marketing & Communications team as a writer and photographer. She was hired after graduation to support public health communications during the COVID-19 pandemic.