Booster Vaccinations: Current Recommendations

Written by Courtney Coleman, Edited by Edward Chen

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Booster vaccinations for COVID-19 continue to be a frequently discussed topic due to data suggesting that vaccine effectiveness appears to wane with time, and this has been particularly concerning among researchers because of the new COVID-19 variants. On August 12th, the FDA approved booster vaccinations for individuals with compromised immune systems, and on September 25th, this approval was expanded to include those at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.


For individuals with compromised immune systems, a booster vaccine is recommended for those who have completed the two dosages developed by either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna at least four weeks prior. Regarding immunocompromised individuals who received the Janssen vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson (J&J), although it is thought that a booster vaccination will be likely, the effectiveness of receiving a booster of this vaccine is still under investigation at the time of this writing.


The expansion of the CDC’s booster vaccination guidelines now include those ages 65 years and older, individuals residing in long-term care facilities, and those ages 18-64 who are at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 either due to certain medical conditions or their occupation. This expanded recommendation presently applies only to those who completed the primary series of Comirnaty, the vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, at least six months prior. Data for the vaccines produced by Moderna and J&J is currently pending.


Recent research suggests that booster vaccination side effects parallel those often experienced after the second vaccination and include “swelling, redness, and pain at injection site; fever; headache; tiredness; muscle pain; chills; and nausea.” The most common side effects reported were “fatigue and pain at injection site,” and while it is rare to experience a serious reaction or side effect, these may occur in some vaccine recipients.


As researchers continue to investigate the potential benefits of receiving a Moderna or J&J booster vaccination, it is expected that new details resulting from these studies will soon emerge and result in additional or adjusted recommendations.

This post is not a substitute for professional advice. If you believe that you may be experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19, please contact your primary care physician, or go to the nearest Emergency Room. Results from ongoing research and the current understanding of COVID-19 are constantly evolving. This post contains information that was last updated on September 29, 2021.

Courtney Coleman is a master's degree candidate studying biology and a National Team member of Students vs. Pandemics.


Edward Chen is a master's student studying immunology. He's also the national president of Students vs. Pandemics. @EdwrdChen

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