Only certain populations who received the Pfizer- BioNTech vaccines – with the second dose delivered at least six months ago – can get a booster shot at this time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that these three groups SHOULD get the booster shot if they received the second dose of Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago:
People age 65 and older
Adults age 50–64 with underlying medical conditions
Residents age 18+ in long-term care settings
The CDC also recommends that the following groups MAY get a booster shot, based on individual benefits and risks, if they received the second dose of Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago:
People age 18–49 with underlying medical conditions
People age 18–64 at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of their job
First responders (healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
Education staff (teachers, daycare, support staff)
Food and agriculture workers
U.S. Postal Service workers
Public transit workers
Grocery store workers
Those undergoing cancer treatment
People who have received transplants and are taking drugs to suppress the immune system
People taking high-dose steroids that suppress the immune system
Chronic kidney disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathy
Pregnancy or recent pregnancy
Those with a weak immune system in general
If you are not sure whether you fit one of these categories, contact your doctor’s office.
Booster: A booster shot is for those whose immunity may wane over time or who may need protection against a new virus strain. A COVID-19 booster shot is given at least six months after completing the “primary series” (two doses) of the Pfizer vaccine. Booster shots are given to those age 18+ who are eligible.
Third dose: A third dose of Pfizer is available for certain people age 12+ who are immunocompromised and may not have received sufficient protection from the first two doses. They are eligible to receive a third dose at least 28 days after their second dose. (Note: Certain people age 18+ who are immunocompromised and received the Moderna vaccines may get a third dose as soon as 28 days after their second dose; a Pfizer dose should only be given if Moderna is in short supply and cannot be found.)
Additional groups may be recommended to receive a booster shot as more data become available. Experts are looking at data to understand how well the vaccines work for different populations. In the meantime, the vaccines continue to be quite effective at reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death.
At this time, booster shot authorization only applies to people who received the Pfizer vaccines – it is not recommended to mix different brands of vaccines.
People in the recommended groups who got the Moderna or J&J vaccine will likely need a booster shot. Data on the effectiveness and safety of Moderna and J&J booster shots are expected soon.
No. The vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death, even against the highly contagious delta variant. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection in some groups.
So far, reactions have been similar to the first two doses (the booster shot is identical to the first two doses). Being tired and having pain at the injection site continue to be the most common reactions.
Although rare, it is still possible to have a severe allergic reaction. This often occurs within a few minutes to an hour. Severe reactions include:
Swelling of the face and throat
Having a bad rash appear all over the body
Feeling dizzy or weak
If you think you are having a severe reaction, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Do NOT get the Pfizer booster shot if you:
Had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of this vaccine
Had a severe reaction to any ingredient of this vaccine
You are still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a J&J vaccine.
Yes. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available to protect everyone, as COVID-19 is still active in the community. It is also important to urge others to get vaccinated in the first place.
Yes, you should still get the booster shot. We do not yet know exactly how long immunity lasts after being infected with COVID-19. The booster will do just that – boost your protection against becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 in the future.
The booster shot is widely available and easily located by using the state’s vaccine locator. Just make sure the site you plan to visit offers Pfizer.
It may be required at non-Prisma Health locations. At Prisma Health, you may make an appointment or walk in.
There is no cost. The federal government will cover the booster shot cost. There will be no out-of-pocket costs regardless of your insurance coverage or ability to pay.
At the request of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Prisma Health will be reimbursed from insurance for administering this shot, be it from private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.
Continue following CDC guidelines for mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing. For complete guidelines and travel recommendations, please go to cdc.gov/coronavirus.