Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

COVID-19 Booster Shots are Now Available – What You Need to Know

Containers of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Each vial contains six doses for vaccination against the COVID-19 virus. Pfizer vaccines at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, Sept. 9, 2021. Each Pfizer vial contains six doses for vaccination against the COVID-19 virus. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebeckah Medeiros)

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Booster shots of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine are now available at military medical treatment facility and Department of Defense vaccination sites.

Those eligible for a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot may also get them at commercial sites, such as civilian pharmacies or doctors' offices

All COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer-BioNTech's booster dose, may be given at the same time as the influenza vaccine (or other vaccines which may be due).

Fully vaccinated is still defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as completing the 2-dose series for Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines and the 1 dose for Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.

Booster Shots

Booster shots are now formally recommended for certain groups of people under an Emergency Use Authorization, according to recent announcements from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC.

For now, eligibility for a booster shot is limited to those who previously received a two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for their initial vaccination.

At this time, booster shots are not recommended for those who initially received the Moderna two-dose vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen single-dose vaccine or a mixed series of vaccines. However, those two populations will likely be recommended to receive a booster shot, and a formal recommendation for that may be forthcoming later this year as additional data are reviewed, according to the CDC.

Eligibility to voluntarily receive a single Pfizer-BioNTech booster vaccine includes people who are:

  • 65 years and older and residents in long-term care facilities
  • 18 and older in long-term care settings
  • 50-64 with underlying medical conditions
  • 18-49 with underlying medical conditions based on their individual benefits and risks
  • 18-64 who are at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional settings such as teachers, frontline health care workers and essential workers, and those incarcerated, based on their individual benefits and risks.

To become eligible for a booster shot, there is a there is a six-month waiting period after the completion of the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech 2-dose vaccine.

Booster doses are not currently part of the DOD or federal worker mandates for COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

Proof of an underlying condition or an occupational risk is not required to receive a booster dose at an MTF or DOD vaccination site, and self-reporting of a condition eligible for a booster shot is allowed at any site where vaccines are available.

Comirnaty

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is also known as the "Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine." The initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized for use under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization earlier this year, and the same vaccine assumed the new name, Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty, when it was fully approved by the FDA on Sept. 23. The two vaccines may be used interchangeably.

The COVID-19 shot being administered
Air Force Maj. Carla Cox, 59th Medical Wing commander’s executive officer, provides a COVID-19 vaccine to a San Antonio Military Health System beneficiary at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amanda Stanford)

The Comirnaty name (pronounced koe-mir' na tee) was developed from taking the Co from COVID-19, followed by the mRNA in the middle and ending with the 'ty' as a nod to immunity and community.

Third Shot vs. Booster

There is an important distinction between "booster shots" and "an additional dose."

A booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for certain individuals at least six months after the second dose of the two dose Pfizer-BioNTech series. A booster shot aims to increase, or "boost", waning immunity observed over time, especially in those 65 years and older and residents of long-term care facilities. A familiar analogy of a booster shot may be the tetanus booster that is recommended every 10 years.

The option for an "additional dose" of mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) was recommended in August for a comparatively smaller group of people who have compromised immune systems. This, unlike the booster dose, is because the primary 2-dose series of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna may not have resulted in a good enough antibody response; therefore an additional dose is recommended. The timing of an "additional dose" is at least 28 days after the second dose of an mRNA vaccine.

What about Moderna or Janssen Booster Doses?

Health officials may soon make a decision about whether to expand the recommendation for a booster beyond just those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Moderna has already submitted data to the FDA for booster authorization. "A decision is expected soon," National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said Sept. 28. Earlier in September, J&J/Janssen submitted new data in support of a booster for its vaccine.

It's Time to Get Vaccinated

Both FDA and CDC noted that the populations most vulnerable to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19 continue to be those who are unvaccinated, and the nation's priority should remain getting everyone vaccinated with their primary series.

The approved and authorized COVID-19 vaccines continue to be effective in reducing severe, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, even against the dominant Delta variant.

Most COVID-19 severe cases, hospitalizations, and deaths occur among the unvaccinated, around 99% of the time.

Hospitalizations rates are 10 to 22 times higher among unvaccinated adults compared to vaccinated adults, according to the CDC.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the FDA Vaccines and Related Biologicals Advisory Committee will continue to follow the scientific data, and evidence will inform booster shot recommendations beyond the current ones.

Experts are looking at all available data to understand how well current vaccines are working for different populations - including looking at new variants Delta and Mu - to see how they affect vaccines' effectiveness.

While the COVID-19 vaccines currently available work to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and deaths, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection, especially among certain populations, against mild to moderate disease.

"FDA and CDC have determined these booster shots can begin, based on the latest data and evidence, after a thorough, independent and transparent process of evaluating safety and effectiveness," the White House said in a Sept. 24 statement.

You also may be interested in...

Critically ill COVID Patient Delivers Baby While on Heart-Lung Bypass

Article
1/11/2022
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hernandez and his wife, Ashley, take a family portrait with their six children. Ashley is BAMC’s first patient to give birth while on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation.

Hernandez, a Marine Corps spouse and mother of five, is BAMC’s first patient to give birth while on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Coronavirus

Development of WRAIR’s Pan-Coronavirus Vaccine Shows Promise

Article
12/28/2021
A vial of spike ferritin nanoparticle WRAIR's COVID-19 vaccine

Series of preclinical studies supports the Army’s pan-coronavirus vaccine development strategy

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Immunization Experts are Central to COVID-19 Vaccine Program

Article
12/20/2021
Medical director at Fort Riley, Kansas receives a COVID-19 vaccination In his left arm from a tech in personal protective equipment.

Immunization Health Division at forefront of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Military Health System Marks 1-Year Anniversary for COVID Vaccinations

Article
12/14/2021
FEmale Marine gets COVID 19 vaccination in left  arm at Camp LeJeune in December 2020

More than 6.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered a year after first shots within MHS.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

MHS Reaches 6 Million Doses of Vaccine Against COVID

Article
11/10/2021
Airmen of the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, receive COVID-19 immunizations as a part of the federal mandate at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Missouri, Oct. 2, 2021. The 139th Medical Group oversees the operation. .

Military passes 6 million mark for COVID-19 shots administered across the Military Health System.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

COVID 19 Vaccine Is Now Available for Children 5 to 11

Article
11/9/2021
5-year-old girl in mask reads a book by herself

COVID-19 vaccines for 5-11 year olds are ready now through MHS

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Pregnancy Health Alert: COVID-19 Vaccine is Strongly Recommended

Article
10/20/2021
Pregnant women gets the COVID-19 vaccine

Get vaccinated for COVID-19 if you’re pregnant or trying, DOD and CDC and advise.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Women's Health

More Than 95% of Active Duty Have Received COVID-19 Vaccine

Article
10/15/2021
Female hospital corpsman gives a COVID-19 vaccine injection to a sailor in her left arm

Service members continue to line up for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

Mask Mouth Does Not Exist, Dentists Say

Article
10/6/2021
A bunch of children wearing face masks walk on a city street.

Mask mouth doesn’t exist, Internet chatter to the contrary, dentists say.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Myths & facts about the vax - debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths

Article
9/29/2021
Myths and facts about the vax

The COVID-19 vaccine has been mandated across the Department of Defense and despite its demonstrated effectiveness and safety, a host of myths have left some Airmen and Guardians hesitant to receive it. While social media posts and some news outlets may make it harder to keep up with what is fact or fiction, the science is clear … approved COVID-19 vaccines work.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DODEA Schools Keeps On With In-Person Classes, and Fall Sports, Too

Article
9/23/2021
Kids playing football

DODEA schools are striving to continue in-person learning in the 2021-22 school year.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Coronavirus

The COVID-19 Pandemic: How Health Care Workers are Coping

Article
9/13/2021
a nurse helping a COVID-19 patient

For health care providers, experiencing the pandemic inside a hospital has brought

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Military Health Podcasts

Increased COVID Restrictions on the Pentagon Reservation

Article
9/8/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and positive test cases in the National Capital Region, the Pentagon Reservation will move to Health Protection Condition Bravo Plus (Bravo+)

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

As Fitness Tests Resume, Troops Seek Post-COVID Exercise Routines

Article
8/31/2021
Military personnel physically training

Keeping fit during pandemic proves hard for some.

Recommended Content:

Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Coronavirus

Digital health innovation emerges during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
8/31/2021
The Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic. (Graphic courtesy of DHA Connected Health)

The DHA's Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise, and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Connected Health | Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 27

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.