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Who should receive additional COVID-19 vaccine doses or booster shots?

Last Updated: 09/24/2021

Note: The NJ Department of Health is directing vaccination partners in the state to begin administering booster doses to eligible individuals immediately. This article will be updated with additional information shortly.

Additional COVID-19 vaccine doses are recommended for immunocompromised individuals who have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

COVID-19 booster shots are expected to soon be authorized and available for some groups of individuals. Additional details will be added to this article as available.

Difference Between Booster Shots and Additional Doses for Immunocompromised Individuals

Additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine are recommended for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. This third dose is a necessary additional dose of vaccine for people living with an immune system deficiency. It is intended to make sure that immunocompromised individuals have enough protection against COVID-19 as they may not build the same level of immunity from the two-dose vaccine series as people who are not immunocompromised.

A booster shot is different. A booster is an additional shot that will allow the immune system to boost up its defenses against the coronavirus, given when the immune response weakens over time.

Additional Doses for Immunocompromised Individuals

People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines should receive an additional dose after the initial two doses.

The additional Pfizer or Moderna dose should be of the same product as the initial vaccine series. However, if the vaccine administered previously is not available, the other mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered. Nobody should receive more than three COVID-19 vaccine doses.

At this time, additional doses are not recommended for those vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Booster Shots

COVID-19 booster shots are not yet available in the United States.

On Friday, September 17th, the federal Food and Drug Administration's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee recommended that the FDA authorize Pfizer booster shots for those ages 65 years or older or who are at a high-risk of contracting COVID, and who are six months or longer past their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

New Jersey is awaiting final guidance from the CDC and FDA before making Pfizer booster shots available. Additional details will be shared as they are available.

Eligibility

People who are severely or moderately immunocompromised are eligible for an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. This includes people 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, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

If you do not know whether you are immunocompromised or if you should get an additional dose, please ask your healthcare provider for guidance.

Additional information about immunocompromised persons and COVID-19 vaccination is available from the CDC.

Additional doses are not yet recommended for anybody who is not immunocompromised.

When to Get a Third Dose

It is recommended that eligible immunocompromised individuals get their third dose if at least four weeks have passed since their previous vaccination was completed.

Where to Get a Third Dose

Any eligible person can get their third dose at any existing vaccination location without a prescription. New Jersey residency is not required. Use the Vaccine Appointment Finder to make an appointment for your third dose at any vaccination location. There is currently widespread vaccine availability across the United States, and walk-in vaccination is available at many locations.

What to Bring to Your Third Dose Appointment

Individuals should bring their CDC Vaccination Card or other documentation of the vaccine doses they have received—including the digital record via the Docket app. If individuals don't have their vaccine card or their digital COVID-19 record via the Docket app, the vaccine provider should look up the individual's vaccine record on the state's vaccine registry.

People who want a third dose should identify themselves as immunocompromised. Proof of immunocompromised status is not required. A prescription is not required.

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.