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NEW! COVID Booster for Age 12 and Older

Last updated: January 18, 2022

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Currently, the Anne Arundel County Department of Health is providing vaccine by appointment using the COVID Vaccinations Sign-Up Form here. Walk-ins are also welcome as vaccine supplies allow.

IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR A BOOSTER SHOT,
YOU CAN MAKE AN APPOINTMENT HERE

Anyone 12 or older is encouraged to receive a booster dose of COVID vaccine. It is strongly recommended by the CDC that those who received a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine get a booster dose of COVID vaccine at least five months after the initial series completion.  
For the nearly 15 million people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.


Frequently Asked Questions COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters vs. Third Doses


What is a Booster Shot?

For some viruses, the protection we get from a vaccine starts to wear off over time. An additional dose of the vaccine may be needed to boost your immune response and make sure you are protected from the virus. Boosters are common for many vaccines, like the Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis).

What is a Third Dose?

People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, and may not build the same level of immunity to the two-dose vaccine series compared to people who are not immunocompromised.

This additional dose is intended to improve immunocompromised people’s response to their initial vaccine series

Have Booster Shots for COVID-19 vaccine been recommended by the CDC?

Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone 18 and older who completed their Moderna primary series at least five months ago, get a booster shot.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends that anyone 12 and older who completed their Pfizer primary series at least five months ago, get a booster shot.  

For individuals who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, boosters shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and were vaccinated two or more months ago.  

Moderately to severely immunocompromised people ages 12 years and older who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine primary series (Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna) and a third dose are eligible to receive a booster shot.

Individuals 18 and older may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. You may get the same vaccine type that you originally received or you can get a different vaccine type for your booster. Individuals 12 to 17 years of age are only eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine as their booster.

Why are we allowed to mix and match vaccines for Booster Shots, but not in the primary series?

Data show that mixing and matching all three of the FDA-approved or FDA-authorized vaccine booster doses led to a strong response. In groups that mixed and matched their booster dose a similar or higher immune response was created as compared to getting the same vaccine as the booster dose. Please talk with your medical provider if you have any questions about your booster shot.

What is the recommendation for a Third Dose of COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC recommends that:

  • People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems who are 18 and older and who completed their Moderna vaccine primary series should plan to get an additional full dose of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after receiving their second shot.
  • People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems who are 5 and older who completed their Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine primary series should plan to get an additional full dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after receiving their second shot.
  • People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems who are 18 and older and who received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine should not receive an additional primary dose. However, they should get a booster shot (you may choose the type of COVID-19 vaccine for your booster shot) at least 2 months after their single-dose J&J/Janssen primary shot.

How is the Booster Shot recommendation different from the Third Dose recommendation for the immunocompromised? 

Individuals 18 and older who completed their Moderna primary series are eligible to receive a booster shot at least five months after the completion of the primary vaccine series.  

Individuals 12 and older who completed their Pfizer primary series are eligible to receive a booster shot at least five months after the completion of the primary vaccine series.

Individuals 18 and older who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine two or more months ago are also recommended to get a booster shot.

COVID-19 booster shots are the same formulation as the current COVID-19 vaccines. However, in the case of the Moderna booster shot, it is half the dose of the vaccine than the initial series. The Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson booster shots are the same dose of the vaccine people get for their initial series or single dose.

Individuals 18 and older may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. You may get the same vaccine type that you originally received or you can get a different vaccine type for your booster.  Individuals 12 to 17 years of age are only eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine as their booster. 

Who is eligible for a Booster Shot?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone 18 and older who completed their Moderna primary series at least five months ago, get a booster shot.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends that anyone 12 and older who completed their Pfizer primary series at least five months ago, get a booster shot.  

The CDC also recommends that individuals 18 and older who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine two or more months ago, get a booster shot.

There are no specific occupations, living conditions or medical conditions that make someone eligible for a booster shot. Please talk with your medical provider if you have any questions about your eligibility.

How was the decision to approve Booster Shots made?

Studies show after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection decreases over time and may also be decreased due to changes in circulating variants. The recent emergence of the Omicron variant further increases the importance of vaccination and boosters to protect against COVID-19.

CDC provides recommendations in real-time on how to keep you best protected against SARS-CoV-2. Current surveillance data from the United States demonstrate that it is critically important for people to remain up to date with CDC’s vaccine recommendations. In November, those who were unvaccinated were more than 3 times more likely to test positive for infection compared to those who were vaccinated and more than 9 times more likely compared to those who were boosted.

Additional studies from around the world demonstrate the benefit of a booster dose over receiving only a primary series.

  • In large national studies from Israel comparing those who are boosted with those who are fully vaccinated, a booster dose decreased infection by 10 times in all age groups.
  • Booster doses also decreased severe disease by 18 times in individuals over 60 years old and 22 times in those who were 40 to 59 years old.
  • In these studies, a booster dose decreased mortality due to COVID-19 by 90% compared to being fully vaccinated.

CDC will continue to follow the evidence related to vaccine effectiveness and safety, waning immunity and protection against variants and will keep recommendations current on how to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines.

Is a Booster Shot safe?

Since Moderna and Pfizer initially submitted safety and effectiveness data on a single booster dose following primary vaccination to the FDA, additional real-world data have become available on the recently increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and on the risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) following vaccination with these vaccines. These additional data enabled the FDA to reassess the benefits and risks of the use of these vaccines in people ages 12 and above.

The FDA has determined that the benefits of a single booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines outweigh the risks of myocarditis and pericarditis in individuals age 12 years of age and older when used following completion of primary vaccination to provide continued protection against COVID-19 and the associated serious consequences that can occur including hospitalization and death.

Both Pfizer and Moderna are conducting post-authorization/post-marketing studies to assess known serious risks of myocarditis and pericarditis. In addition, the FDA and CDC have several systems in place to continually monitor COVID-19 vaccine safety and allow for the rapid detection and investigation of potential safety concerns.

If we need a Booster Shot, does that mean that the vaccines aren’t working?

No. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against variants. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection, especially among certain populations, against mild and moderate disease. A booster shot will help provide continued protection against severe disease in the populations who are especially at risk.

What are the risks to getting a Booster Shot?

For many who completed their primary series with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the benefits of getting a booster shot outweigh the known and potential risks. So far, reactions reported after getting a booster shot were similar to that of the two-dose or single-dose initial series. Fever, headache, fatigue and pain at the injection site were the most commonly reported side effects, and overall, most side effects were mild to moderate. However, as with the two-dose or single-dose initial series, serious side effects are rare, but may occur.

Does this change the definition of “fully vaccinated” for those eligible for Booster Shots? 

People are still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This definition applies to all people, including those who receive an additional dose as recommended for moderate to severely immunocompromised people and those who receive a booster shot.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone ages 5 and older, including those trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners.

Professional medical organizations serving people of reproductive age, including adolescents, emphasize that there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes a loss of fertility. These organizations also recommend COVID-19 vaccination for people who may consider getting pregnant in the future.

Professional societies for male reproduction recommend that men who want to have babies in the future be offered COVID-19 vaccination. There is no evidence that vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause male fertility problems.

Will people need to show a doctor’s note/prescription or other documentation?

Individuals don’t need a note or prescription to get a booster shot. You just need to self-attest and receive a shot wherever vaccines are offered. This will help ensure there are not additional barriers to access for these select populations receiving their booster shot.

Do I need to be a citizen of the United States or a resident of Anne Arundel County or Maryland to be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

No one will ask for proof of citizenship or residency at any Anne Arundel County Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine clinic.

Do I have to pay for a Booster Shot or Third Dose?

No, COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone who is eligible, regardless of insurance or immigration status.

Can I go anywhere for my Booster Shot?

You can go to any provider that has COVID-19 vaccine as long as you are 18 years of age and older and it has been five months after the initial series for Moderna, 12 years of age and older and it has been five months after the initial series of Pfizer, or 18 years of age and it has been two months after a single dose of Johnson & Johnson and as long as the facility has the correct vaccine.

You do not need to go back to the place where you received your first two doses of the series or a single dose initial series. To find a vaccination provider near you, please visit, https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/vaccine. For a list of Anne Arundel County Department of Health booster clinics, please visit, https://aacounty.org/covidvax/third-dose/index.html.

Am I still able to get a first dose or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to be our priority. The Anne Arundel County Department of Health, pharmacies and doctor’s offices still have many opportunities for you to get vaccinated. Please visit, https://www.aacounty.org/covidvax or https://www.aahealth.org/vaccine-locations to schedule your first or second dose today!

Can I get my COVID-19 vaccine and my flu shot at the same time?

Yes! Currently the CDC and ACIP recommend that if a person is eligible, both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same visit, without regard to timing. If you have concerns about getting both vaccines at the same time, speak with a health care provider.

General Prevention Recommendations for COVID-19

The CDC recommends the following preventative actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases.

  • Everyone regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask indoors in public to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others. These recommendations are based on the county’s case rate which determines the Level of Community Transmission as defined by the CDC. Face masks are required in some health care facilities and on public transportation. Wearing a mask is the best way to slow the spread when around others outside your household. The two biggest risks are social gatherings and public dining, which bring people together who are not usually together. Keep your bubble of contacts as small as possible and do not let your guard down.
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet at all times.
  • Frequently and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Practice proper respiratory etiquette, including coughing and sneezing into the back of your elbow or into a tissue. Immediately throw away the tissue and wash your hands.

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