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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 staying up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines is important

Vaccines and boosters continue to protect against new forms of the coronavirus (like Omicron). Staying up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines is the best way to protect yourself and your family.

Here’s what we know from the recent Omicron surge:

  • People who were vaccinated were much less likely to get very sick or die compared to people who weren’t vaccinated.
  • People who had a booster shot had even better protection.

Note: If we 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. Some people can also now get a second booster shot.

When to get your booster shot

If you got the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine

  • Get your booster shot at least 5 months after you completed your primary vaccine series, or
  • Get your booster shot at least 3 months after you completed your primary vaccine series if you have a weakened immune system and received an additional vaccine dose
    Find out if you can get an additional vaccine dose

Note: If you’re at least 18 years old, 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. 

If you got the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine

Get your booster shot at least 2 months after you got your primary vaccine.

Note: If you’re at least 18 years old, the CDC strongly recommends getting either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine for your booster.  

When to get a second booster shot if you’re eligible

You should get a second booster shot at least 4 months after your first booster if either of these descriptions is true for you:

  • You’re at least 50 years old, or
  • You’re moderately to severely immunocompromised. If you have a weakened immune system, you may have already received an additional dose and a booster. You can still get a second booster. Find out if you can get an additional vaccine dose

You can also get a second booster shot at least 4 months after your first booster if both of these descriptions are true for you:

  • You're between 18 and 49 years old, and
  • You had the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID vaccine for both your primary vaccine and your booster

Note: You can choose either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine for your second booster.  

How to get a booster shot at VA

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 VA health facilities have all types of vaccines right now. And facilities may offer different vaccines at different times. If you have questions about which vaccine to get, talk to your health care team.
  • Check the facility’s website for walk-in hours before you go. Not all facilities offer walk-in hours. 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 VA health facilities have all types of vaccines right now. And facilities may offer different vaccines at different times. If you have questions about which vaccine to get, talk to your health care team.
  • Check the facility’s website for walk-in hours before you go. Not all facilities offer walk-in hours. 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 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 an additional dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. This means they have certain conditions that weaken their immune system.

Data shows that these groups of people are more at risk of serious, long-term illness from COVID-19. They may benefit from an additional dose to make sure they have enough protection against COVID-19.

You may be able to get an additional vaccine dose 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, contact your health care provider. They can tell you if you can get an additional vaccine dose at this time.

If you received the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine, you should still get an additional dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. And no matter which vaccine you received, you should also get a booster dose. The CDC strongly recommends getting either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine for your booster.

What to know before you get an additional vaccine dose

Here’s when you should get your additional dose:

  • At least 28 days after your second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, or
  • At least 28 days after your single dose of the Janssen vaccine

You don’t need to get your additional dose at the same facility where you got your other doses. But 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. And bring your vaccine record card with you when you come in so we can record your additional dose.

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

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

If you’re eligible for an additional 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 an additional 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 primary doses at VA

If you’re eligible for an additional vaccine dose, you may be able to get your additional 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