Should You Get a Second COVID-19 Vaccine Booster?

Published On May 16, 2022

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Hello I'm Dr. John Whyte, the chief medical officer at WebMD. Should you get the second booster? A lot of people have been asking me that question lately. First thing I want to say is, you definitely should get the first booster.

And that's for everyone 12 and older six months after completing their COVID-19 vaccine primary series. Now, more than half of the people who are eligible still haven't received the first booster. And don't worry if it's been more than six months, since you don't have to restart the whole series to get that first booster. Now, what about the second booster, which, for people who received Pfizer and Moderna, would be their fourth shot? Who's eligible? Well, right now, you're eligible for a second COVID-19 booster if you're 50 years of age or older, and you got your first booster at least four months ago, or if you're moderately or severely immunocompromised, you're 12 years of age or older, and you got your first booster, again, at least four months ago. Now, I want to point out that you don't need any documentation to prove you're immunocompromised or if you got two doses of the J&J Janssen vaccine at least four months ago.

Here's what you should consider in your decision. Are you or someone you live with more likely to get very sick? Now, certain factors can make it more likely someone will get sick from COVID-19.

So if you're eligible for a second booster, it may be helpful to get that second booster now if you or someone you live with is moderately or severely immunocompromised, more likely to get sick, very sick from COVID 19, more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 through your job, where you live, or other factors-- maybe you have frequent travel, you're involved with large gatherings, or you live in an area with medium to high COVID-19 community levels, or if someone you live with is unvaccinated.

But can you wait? That's a very good question since we know protection from a booster decreases over time. Here's what the CDC says you may consider when you're trying to make that decision whether or not to wait for a second booster-- if you've had COVID-19 within the past three months or if you feel that getting a second booster now would make you not want to get another booster in the future because the second booster may be more important in the fall of '22 if we're going to have one or if a new vaccine for a future COVID-19 variant becomes available.

Let's be honest. We just don't know for sure. That's why you always want to talk to your health care provider or your local pharmacist if you have questions and be sure to periodically check the CDC site for any new recommendations. If you have questions for us at WebMD, drop me a line. You can email me at [email protected]. Thanks for watching. [MUSIC PLAYING]