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Who can get a booster shot or third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Last Updated: 01/10/2022

Everyone ages 12 and older should get a booster shot at any vaccination location. Those ages 12 through 17 years old are only eligible for a Pfizer booster.

Individuals are eligible to receive a booster if it has been at least 2 months since their one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot, or at least 5 months after completing their two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series.

Eligible adults may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. The CDC recommends that mRNA vaccines (e.g. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) are preferred over the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine for prevention of COVID-19 in adults.

COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death. However, studies show that vaccination may become less effective over time, especially in preventing infection or milder illness and in people over 65 years old. Booster doses provide necessary additional protection against waning immunity. All eligible individuals are encouraged to get booster shots.

Third Doses for Immunocompromised Individuals

Note: Persons 5 years and older who are immunocompromised are now eligible for a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

People with moderate or severe immune system deficiencies should get an additional Pfizer or Moderna shot at any vaccination location, at least 28 days after their second Pfizer or Moderna shot, including those who have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome and Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

People who want a third dose should identify themselves as immunocompromised, and proof of immunocompromised status is not required. Vaccine appointments can be made at any existing vaccination location without a prescription.

The third dose should be of the same product as the initial vaccine series and should be delivered at least 28 days after the second shot. However, if the vaccine administered previously is not available, Pfizer or Moderna may be substituted with one another when administered as additional doses to moderately to severely immunocompromised adults. 5- through 17-year-olds can only receive the Pfizer vaccine at this time.

"Third Doses" vs "Booster Shots"

Additional vaccine shots are currently recommended for one of two reasons:

  • For immunocompromised individuals, the two-dose vaccine may not provide the same level of immunity as it does to non-immunocompromised individuals. A "third dose" of the vaccine helps their immune system build up enough protection against COVID-19.
  • For other individuals, their immune protection against COVID-19 may weaken over time. A "booster shot" helps their immune system boost up its defenses against COVID-19.

What to Bring to Your Appointment

If you have your CDC Vaccination Card, you should bring it with you so that the additional dose can be added to your card. If you do not have your card, you can bring other documentation, including the digital record via the Docket app. The vaccine provider can also look up the individual's vaccine record on the State's imunization informatoin system.

You do not need any proof of a medical condition, a note from a medical provider, or a prescription.

Assistance

The State's toll-free vaccination hotline (1-855-568-0545) is available from 8 am to 8 pm, seven days a week to register individuals in the NJ Vaccine Scheduling System, answer questions about the vaccine, provide contact information for sites, and check registration status.