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COVID-19 booster shots and additional doses

We follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on COVID-19 booster shots and additional vaccine doses. Read this page for the latest updates.

Why experts recommend booster shots and additional doses 

COVID-19 vaccines continue to work well to prevent severe illness and death. Together, vaccines and booster shots provide the best protection against coronavirus variants like Delta and Omicron.

Data shows that booster shots and additional doses can help people stay fully protected:

  • A booster shot can help you stay fully protected over time. Data shows that protection against milder illness lessens over time. This is especially true for certain groups of people. The CDC recommends that everyone who is at least 12 years old should get a booster shot. Not all VA health facilities offer vaccines to youth under age 18. Learn about getting a booster shot

  • Some people need an additional dose to get full protection. Certain groups of people may not have had a strong enough immune response from the first 2 doses. These groups should get a third dose. They should then get a booster shot at least 5 months after their third dose. Learn about getting an additional dose

Note: Scientists are still studying how strong protection from the current COVID-19 vaccines will be against the new Omicron variant. But the vaccines offer strong protection against other variants. If we do find that there’s a variant different enough that a current vaccine won't protect against it, you may need to get an updated vaccine. That shouldn’t prevent you from getting a booster now.

Getting a booster shot

The CDC recommends that everyone who is at least 12 years old should get a booster shot. Not all VA health facilities may offer vaccines to youth under age 18.

When to get your booster shot

  • If you got the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine: At least 5 months after you completed your primary vaccine series
  • If you got the Moderna vaccine: At least 5 months after you completed your primary vaccine series
  • If you got the Janssen (J&J) vaccine: At least 2 months after you got your primary vaccine

Which vaccine to get for your booster

If you're at least 18 years old, you can choose which vaccine to get for your booster shot. The CDC strongly recommends getting either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine for your booster.

Youth ages 12 to 17 can only get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for their booster shot. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccine currently authorized for youth ages 12 to 17. Not all VA health facilities may offer vaccines to youth under age 18.

Not all VA health facilities have all types of vaccines right now. And facilities may offer different vaccines at different times. Confirm that the facility has the vaccine you want before you come in to get your booster.

If you have questions about which vaccine to get, talk to your health care team.

Send a secure message to your VA provider

How to get a booster shot at VA

You can only get a booster shot if you completed your primary vaccine series.

If you’re a Veteran who receives care through VA

Your local VA health facility will contact you when you’re due for your shot. Your facility may offer you a booster by appointment or in a walk-in vaccine clinic.

What to know:

  • Confirm that the facility has the vaccine you want before you come in.
  • Not all facilities offer walk-in hours. Be sure to check the facility’s website for walk-in hours before you go. When you arrive, you may need to wait for the staff to prepare your vaccine.
  • Bring your COVID-19 vaccine record card with you.

Find VA health facilities near you that offer COVID-19 vaccines

If you don’t receive care through VA or if you received your primary vaccine series outside of VA

If you’re eligible to get a booster shot, contact your local VA health facility to find out how you can get your shot. 

What to know:

  • Confirm that the facility has the vaccine you want before you come in.
  • Not all facilities offer walk-in hours. Be sure to check the facility’s website for walk-in hours before you go. When you arrive, you may need to wait for the staff to prepare your vaccine.
  • Bring your COVID-19 vaccine record card with you.

Find VA health facilities near you that offer COVID-19 vaccines

How to get a booster shot in the community

If you’re eligible to get a booster shot, contact your primary health care provider or a location that provides free COVID-19 vaccines in your community. 

Find a COVID-19 vaccine near you at vaccines.gov

If you receive care through VA and you get your booster shot outside of VA, we encourage you to share this information with your VA health care team.

Find out how to get your VA COVID-19 vaccine records online

About boosters and the Omicron variant

Scientists are still studying how strong protection with current COVID-19 vaccines will be against the new Omicron variant. But the vaccines offer strong protection against other variants. If we do find that there’s a variant different enough that a current vaccine won’t protect against it, you may need to get an updated vaccine. That shouldn’t prevent you from getting a booster now.

It's safe to get several vaccines in a year. Vaccines have pieces of germs or viruses, killed germs, or weakened germs in them. The goal of a vaccine is to teach your immune system to make antibodies to fight off the real virus if you are exposed to it. In the natural state, your body is exposed to thousands of germs. Your body then makes antibodies in response. Vaccines are a safer way for your body to learn to make antibodies to some of the more dangerous viruses, like COVID-19. But vaccines use the same natural process of your immune system, which is already activated often by germs and viruses. 


Getting an additional vaccine dose

Who can get an additional vaccine dose

The CDC now recommends a third vaccine dose for certain groups of people with weakened immune systems who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Data shows that these groups of people are more at risk of serious, long-term illness from COVID-19. They may benefit from a third dose to make sure they have enough protection against COVID-19.

You may be able to get a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine if any of these descriptions are true for you:

  • You currently receive cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • You have advanced HIV (meaning you have a low CD4 cell count) or you have HIV and aren’t on treatment at this time
  • You received an organ transplant and take medicine to suppress your immune system
  • You received a stem cell transplant within the past 2 years or are taking post-transplant medicine to suppress your immune system
  • A health care provider has diagnosed you with a moderate-to-severe primary immunodeficiency (like DiGeorge or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome) 
  • You currently take high-dose corticosteroids or other medicines that may suppress your immune system

If your condition or medication isn’t on this list and you think you have a moderately to severely weakened immune system, contact your health care provider. They can tell you if you can get a third vaccine dose at this time.

If you received the Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC doesn’t recommend an additional dose at this time.

Note: Whether you got the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Janssen vaccine, you should still get a booster dose 6 months after your last primary dose. The CDC now strongly recommends getting either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine for your booster.

What to know before you get a third vaccine dose

You need to get the same vaccine for all 3 doses. You should get your third dose at least 28 days after your second dose. You don’t need to get your third dose at the same facility where you got your first 2 doses.

Not all VA health facilities have both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna right now. And facilities may offer different vaccines at different times. Confirm that the facility has the vaccine you want before you schedule an appointment for your third dose. And bring your vaccine record card with you when you come in so we can record your third dose.

How to get your third vaccine dose at VA if you’re eligible

If you’re a Veteran who receives health care through VA

If you’re eligible for a third vaccine dose based on the information in your VA health record, we’ll contact you when we have a vaccine for you. This may take some time. 

If we don’t contact you, you can call or send a secure message to your VA health care team. They can tell you if you can get a third dose at this time and help you schedule an appointment.

Find your local VA health facility

Send a secure message to your VA health care team

If you don’t receive health care through VA, but you got your first 2 doses at VA

If you’re eligible for a third vaccine dose, you may be able to get your third dose at VA. Visit your local VA facility’s website or call to find out. 

Find your local VA health facility

You can also contact your primary health care provider or a location that provides COVID-19 vaccines in your community.

Find a COVID-19 vaccine near you at vaccines.gov

Learn more about additional COVID-19 vaccine doses on the CDC website

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