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Who should get a booster shot or third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?
If you are 65 or older, a long-term care resident, an adult with underlying medical conditions, or an adult at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure because of your job or living situation, you are eligible for a "booster shot" of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at any vaccine location, at least six months after your second shot. See below for additional details.
If you are moderately or severely immunocompromised, you are eligible for a "third dose" of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at any vaccine location, at least four weeks after your second shot. See below for additional details.
Booster Shot Eligibility
- Ages 65+ and Long-Term Care Residents: People who are 65 years and older or who live in long-term care settings should get a Pfizer booster, at least six months after their second Pfizer shot.
- Ages 50+ With High-Risk Health Conditions: People who are ages 50-64 with underlying medical conditions (listed below) should get a Pfizer booster, at least six months after their second Pfizer shot.
- Ages 18+ With High-Risk Health Conditions: People who are ages 18-49 years with underlying medical conditions (listed below) may get a Pfizer booster, at least six months after their second Pfizer shot, and should consider their individual risks and benefits.
- Ages 18+ in Jobs or Settings With Increased COVID-19 Risk: People who are ages 18-64 years who are at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of where they work or reside (examples below), may get a Pfizer booster, at least six months after their second Pfizer shot, and should consider their individual risks and benefits.
Individuals self-identify as belonging to an eligible category and are not required to provide proof of a medical condition or a note from a medical provider. Vaccine appointments can be made at any existing vaccination location without a prescription.
High-Risk Health Conditions
Underlying medical conditions included in this booster authorization include:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic lung diseases, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension
- Dementia or other neurological conditions
- Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
- Down syndrome
- Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies or hypertension)
- HIV infection
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
- Liver disease
- Overweight and obesity
- Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
- Smoking, current or former
- Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
- Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain
- Substance use disorders (such as alcohol, opioid, and cocaine use disorders)
This list does not include all potential medical conditions that could make an individual more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. However, other rare medical conditions may put people in more danger form COVID-19 and people with other conditions should talk with their healthcare provider. Individuals are not required to provide proof of a medical condition.
Jobs or Settings With Increased COVID-19 Risk
Adults at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of where they work or reside may get a booster shot after considering their individual risks and benefits.
Examples of settings with increased risk of COVID-19 exposure include:
- Correctional facilities
- Health care facilities
- Homeless shelters
Examples of occupations at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure include:
- Corrections workers
- Education staff, including teachers, support staff, and daycare workers
- First responders, including firefighters and police
- Food and agriculture workers
- Grocery store workers
- Healthcare workers and congregate care staff
- Manufacturing workers
- Public transit workers
- U.S. Postal Service workers
This list does not include all potential occupations which could make an individual more likely to be exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. Individuals should consider their risks and benefits related to their occupation.
Third Dose Eligibility
People with moderate or severe immune system deficiencies should get an additional Pfizer or Moderna shot, at least four weeks 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 four weeks 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 people.
"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.
At this time, the additional shot of the vaccine is the same in both cases, identical to the doses given as first and second shots. Nobody should receive more than three COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Upcoming Guidance for Other Groups
The CDC has announced they are evaluating the available data with urgency to make additional recommendations for people who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, as well as for other groups of people.
This article will be updated when new information is available.
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 vaccine registry.
You do not need any proof of a medical condition, a note from a medical provider, or a prescription.
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.