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Am I fully vaccinated without a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

An illustration of three doses of COVID-19 vaccine
You do not need a booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
(Peter Hamlin / Associated Press)

Do I need a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated?

No. People who got both doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or who got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot are considered fully vaccinated — even without a booster.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you’re fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving your last required dose.

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The vaccines offer strong protection against serious illness. But U.S. health officials now recommend boosters for some people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 based on evidence that vaccine protection against milder disease can wane, especially among older adults.

Approving COVID-19 booster shots seemed like a slam dunk, but two influential advisory boards raised a host of complicated questions.

The CDC says people 65 and older, long-term care residents and others ages 50 to 64 with health problems such as diabetes or heart disease should get boosters if they got Pfizer shots at least six months ago.

The CDC stopped short of recommending boosters for people 18 to 49 with health problems, but says they can also get the shot after considering their individual risk. The same is true for anyone 18 to 64 whose job could put them at higher risk for infection, such as healthcare workers, teachers, first responders, agriculture workers and public transit workers.

People who got the Moderna and J&J vaccines aren’t eligible for boosters yet, but that’s likely coming soon.

The availability of boosters varies around the world. Britain and Israel have also been giving boosters, despite objections from the World Health Organization that poor countries still don’t have enough for their initial doses.


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