FAQ Vaccine Booster Doses

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses

Booster doses are now recommended for certain populations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccine booster doses.

Q: Who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster dose?
A: At this time, booster doses are authorized for fully vaccinated Pfizer/Comirnaty or Moderna vaccine recipients who are at high-risk for exposure to COVID-19 or the complications from severe disease, and can be given at least six months after completion of the primary series.

Those who received an initial series of either Pfizer/Comirnaty or Moderna and are currently eligible include those who meet any of the following criteria:
• 65 years and older.
• Age 18 and older who live in long-term care settings.
• Age 18 and older who have underlying medical conditions.
• Age 18 and older who work or live in high-risk settings.

Booster doses are authorized for all recipients of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone age 18 or older who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine can get a second booster dose at least two months following the initial dose.

Q: Can I get a booster dose of a different vaccine than I initially received?
A: Yes. Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others, may prefer to get a different booster.

CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix-and-match dosing for booster shots. This approach does not apply to the primary series. Two-dose primary series should be from the same vaccine product. So, for example, if you received your first two doses (both Pfizer/Comirnaty, or both Moderna) at least six months ago and are eligible for a booster, you can now choose any of the three available vaccines for a booster: Pfizer/Comirnaty, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson. If you received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago, you can now choose any of the three available COVID-19 vaccines as a booster: Pfizer/Comirnaty, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson.

Q: Which medical conditions make you eligible for a Pfizer or Moderna booster dose?
A: Conditions that could put you at higher risk for serious COVID-19 illness include (but are not limited to): cancer; chronic kidney, liver, or lung disease; neurological conditions, such as dementia; diabetes (type 1 or 2); Down syndrome; heart conditions; HIV infection; weakened immunity; mental health conditions; overweight or obesity; pregnancy; sickle cell disease or thalassemia; smoking (current or former); solid organ or blood stem cell transplant; stroke or cerebrovascular disease, substance use disorders; and tuberculosis.

Individuals age 18 and older who have at least one of these conditions are eligible for a booster dose of the Pfizer/Comirnaty or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. All individuals age 18 and older are eligible for a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s about medical conditions that could put people at higher risk for COVID-19 serious outcomes. For more information, visit: coronavirus.ohio.gov

Q: Which jobs are considered high risk? Should I get a booster?
A: Certain people, based on their occupation, may be at increased risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 while at work.

Here are some examples of workers who are eligible for a Pfizer/Comirnaty or Moderna booster dose.
• First responders (e.g., healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff).
• Education staff (e.g., teachers, support staff, daycare workers).
• Food and agriculture workers.
• Manufacturing workers.
• Corrections workers.
• U.S. Postal Service workers and other shipping/delivery workers.
• Public transit workers.
• Grocery store workers.

Q: I received the Pfizer/Comirnaty vaccine, but the list above says I’m not eligible. Why can’t I get a booster dose, too?
A: At this time, booster doses of the Pfizer/Comirnaty and Moderna vaccines have been authorized only for certain individuals who are at highest risk for serious illness, hospitalization or death from COVID-19 due to their age, medical condition or if they live in a long-term care setting, and individuals at increased risk for COVID-19 infection based on where they live or work. Booster doses are not recommended for any youth or adolescents at this time, with the exception of immunocompromised individuals for whom a third dose of an mRNA vaccine is recommended to complete the primary vaccine series.

Q: If we need booster doses, does this mean the COVID-19 vaccines are no longer effective?
A: No. The COVID-19 vaccines continue to be remarkably effective at reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, and continue to offer protection against the widely circulating Delta variant. Protection against severe illness and death was the original goal of vaccines. A booster dose could help fully vaccinated people at greater risk maintain the highest protection over time and against variant strains, including the highly contagious Delta variant.

Q: Why have some people been getting a third COVID-19 dose early?
A: Both the Pfizer and Moderna messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines require two doses for full effectiveness for most people. For a very small percentage of people (approximately 3% of Ohioans and the U.S. population) who are immunocompromised, a third dose of mRNA vaccine is now recommended as part of that original series. This recommendation applies to people who have moderately or severely weakened immune systems and may have insufficient response to a two-dose vaccine regimen.

The additional dose is a three-dose primary series for people with conditions or undergoing treatments that may cause moderate to severe immune system compromise and therefore a weaker initial response. These conditions include, but are not limited to:
• Active treatment for a solid-tumor cancer or a blood, bone marrow, or lymph cancer.
• Receipt of a solid organ transplant and use of related immunosuppressive drugs.
• Receipt within the past two years of a CAR-T-cell transplant or taking related immunosuppressive drugs.
• Receipt within the past two years of a hematopoietic stem cell (bone marrow) transplant or taking related immunosuppressive drugs.
• Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency.
• Advanced or untreated HIV.
• Active treatment with any of the following:
     - High-dose corticosteroids.
     - Alkylating agents.
     - Antimetabolites.
     - Transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs.
     - Chemotherapy treatments classified as severely immunosuppressive.
     - Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers.
     - A biologic agent that is immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory.

At this time, those third doses are recommended for recipients of the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines (Pfizer/Comirnaty and Moderna). For more information, visit: coronavirus.ohio.gov

Q: I’m eligible. Where can I get a booster dose?
A: With more than 3,500 enrolled COVID-19 vaccine providers in Ohio, there are many opportunities to be vaccinated, including at pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, doctor’s offices, community vaccination sites, and local health departments. There is ample supply of vaccine for boosters, as well as first and second doses, for Ohioans. Eligible booster recipients will be asked to attest they have one of the qualifying conditions, but specific proof will not be required.

Specifically, eligible Ohioans will be able to visit the following types of providers to be vaccinated:
• Long-term care facility or congregate living residents and staff – Facilities will administer vaccines to residents and staff, specifically, nursing homes and assisted living facilities will utilize Ohio’s COVID-19 Vaccine Maintenance Program, and state-owned institutional settings and veterans homes will vaccinate eligible staff and residents.
• Other eligible Ohioans not listed above – Eligible Ohioans can find a provider and schedule an appointment at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov.
     - Most pharmacies will offer either walk-in or scheduled appointments.
     - Local health departments in some of our largest cities will offer special community vaccination sites, and health departments in virtually every county are prepared to offer booster doses,   including to homebound individuals.
     - Community health centers and participating primary care providers will also offer booster doses.
     - Some hospitals and physicians networks will offer booster doses.

There will be many opportunities to be vaccinated in your community, whether you walk in to get your third dose or make an appointment with a nearby provider.

Q: Do I have to get my booster at the same place where I received the original vaccine series? What if it isn’t open anymore?
A: No, you do not need to visit the same vaccine provider for your booster dose.

Some providers, such as the Wolstein Center mass vaccination site, will not be in operation for booster doses. Eligible Ohioans who are not being vaccinated in a long-term care or work setting can choose to receive their COVID-19 at any vaccine provider statewide. To find a provider near you, visit gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-427-5634.

Q: Do I need to bring my COVID-19 vaccine card to my appointment? What if I lost it?
A: Ohioans are encouraged to bring their existing COVID-19 vaccine card to be updated.

If you cannot find your vaccine card, you should first contact your original vaccine provider to see if they can locate your records. If they are unable to assist, please contact your local health department. If they are unable to assist, please review this information on how to mail a request for your vaccination records to the Ohio Department of Health. You will not be able to obtain a new vaccine card by request, but will be able to access your vaccination records. If you do not have your card, you can still get your booster dose.

Q: I’m immunocompromised and received an additional dose. Do I also need a booster dose?
A: No. At this time, individuals who receive a messenger RNA vaccine (Pfizer/Comirnaty or Moderna) should not exceed three total doses.

Q: Are booster doses for the Pfizer or the Comirnaty vaccine?
A: Comirnaty is another name for the fully approved Pfizer vaccine. They are two names for the same product.

For additional information, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov. For answers to your COVID-19 questions, call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1- 833-427-5634).

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you or a loved one are experiencing anxiety related to the coronavirus pandemic, help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call the COVID-19 CareLine at 1-800-720-9616

Wednesday, October 27, 2021