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COVID-19: The benefits of boosters

A man wearing a mask and pulling up his sleeve.

Vaccination is a great way to protect yourself from COVID-19. But once you're fully vaccinated, you might be asking: When should I get a booster dose? And do I need one?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has OK'd COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for anyone age 5 and up.

  • Any adult can get a COVID-19 booster if it has been two months since they completed their primary vaccine series or received their last booster.
  • Children 5 and older can get a booster if it has been two months since their last COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Children 6 months and older who received the Moderna vaccine can get the Moderna bivalent booster two months after the final shot of the primary vaccine.

Why booster shots are important

Here are some key reasons you should get a booster shot:

You may need the extra protection. The COVID-19 vaccine you may already have received is still working to protect you. But that protection can weaken over time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You may not have as much immunity as you did months ago. An extra dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can boost your immune response to the coronavirus, an FDA analysis showed.

Booster shots are safe. The shots use the same vaccines that millions of Americans have already received, but have been updated to include components of the omicron variant as well as the original strain of COVID-19. Many people have no side effects at all. If they do occur, they typically are mild. Common side effects include a sore arm, fever, headache and fatigue. Swollen lymph nodes may also occur. Serious reactions are rare.

Boosters are free and easy to get. It won't cost you anything to get a COVID-19 booster shot. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how to get one. Or call the local health department. You might even be able to get a walk-in appointment.

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