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COVID-19 Vaccine Bivalent Booster Shots

A COVID-19 booster shot is an additional dose of the vaccine that helps people maintain their level of immunity for longer. Booster doses are given to people who have built enough protection after their vaccine, but that protection decreases over time, a situation called waning immunity. All booster doses are now known as bivalent boosts, meaning they it contains the mRNA vaccine for the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the mRNA vaccine for the omicron strain, specifically targeting a part that is found in both the BA.4 and BA.5 variants.

Individuals who completed the primary series of the Pfizer vaccine become eligible for a bivalent booster shot two months after their second dose.

Individuals who completed the primary series of the Moderna vaccine become eligible for a bivalent booster shot two months after their second dose.

Individuals who received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine become eligible for a bivalent booster shot two months after their initial dose.

In addition, individuals 50 and older and certain immunocompromised individuals are eligible to receive a second booster shot of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, such as those from Pfizer or Moderna. They can receive this second booster at least two months after their first booster dose of Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This second booster dose must be with either the Pfizer or Moderna bivalent booster and will increase protection against getting severely ill with COVID-19.

Booster shots are intended to bolster the effect of the initial dose(s) of the vaccine. Data has shown that after several months the effectiveness of the vaccine, while still substantial, does decline somewhat. This does not mean that the vaccine is no longer working. 

The highly-transmissible Omicron variant makes booster shots even more important. According to the CDC, strong immunity will likely prevent serious illness, and the CDC recommends that everyone 18 and older receive a bivalent booster now two months their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or after their initial Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Booster shots are used for many types of vaccines, such as for tetanus or whooping cough. Unlike an additional dose of vaccine that is given to individuals who are immunocompromised and do not build up enough protection when they get the initial vaccination, booster doses are given to people who have built enough protection after their vaccine, but that protection decreases over time, a situation called waning immunity.

Talk with your health care provider about any questions or concerns you have about getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

  • You are eligible to receive a bivalent booster shot, with either the Pfizer or Moderna bivalent booster, at least two months after you received your initial dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or you completed the initial two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
  • If you had the two-dose series of the Novavax vaccine, you can receive a bivalent booster shot beginning at two months after you completed the initial two doses of vaccine. This can be with either the Pfizer or Moderna bivalent booster.

If you are 12 to 17 years of age, you are eligible for one bivalent booster at this time, but only with the Pfizer bivalent booster. This is the case regardless if you have received Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax for your primary series.

 

Check with the COVID-19 vaccine providers in your community. Bivalent booster shots are widely available through pharmacies, local health departments and other providers. Find a vaccine provider in our county-by-county list or visit the NYS Department of Health website on boosters.

If you or someone you know is homebound in the Finger Lakes Region and would like to receive a first dose, booster shot, or third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, learn about how to receive vaccine while homebound.


 

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If you still have questions, you can use the following resources:

New York State Frequently Asked Questions

Call the New York State Hotline at (833) 697-4829