Vaccine-Booster-QA COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Questions & Answers

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COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Questions & Answers

​​​​Who is eligible for booster doses?

People are best protected when they stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccination by receiving a bivalent vaccine. Everyone 6 months and older is eligible for at least one bivalent vaccine. Those at higher risk, including individuals 65 years and older and individuals 6 years and older with certain kinds of immunocompromise, are also eligible for an addi​​​tional bivalent vaccine.  See Booster Doses for more information.

What vaccine products are available for use as booster doses?

Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have been granted an EUA to allow for bivalent vaccines to be given to everyone 6 months and older. Novavax may be used in limited settings. ​See Booster Doses for more information

When should I receive a booster dose?

Everyone 6 months and older should receive a bivalent booster dose at least two months following their last monovalent dose. Individuals 65 years and older may receive an additional bivalent vaccine at least 4 months from their last bivalent dose. Individuals 6 years and older with certain kinds of immunocompromise may receive an additional bivalent vaccine at least 2 months from their last bivalent dose.  More than one booster dose may be eligible for certain populations. See ​eligibility (PDF) for more information.

When were booster doses made available in California?

  • In September of 2021, Pfizer booster doses were authorized for use in California for people aged 12 years and older.
  • In October of 2021, Moderna booster doses were authorized for use in California for people aged 18 years and older.
  • In March of 2022, Moderna and Pfizer booster doses were expanded for use in California to people in vulnerable groups.
  • In May of 2022, Pfizer booster doses were expanded for use in California for children aged 5-11 years.
  • In August of 2022, Moderna and Pfizer bivalent booster doses were authorized for use in California for everyone aged 12 years+ and 18 years+, respectively.
  • In October of 2022, Moderna and Pfizer bivalent booster doses were expanded for use in California for everyone aged 6 years+ and 5 years+, respectively.
  • In October of 2022, Novavax booster doses were granted for use in California for those aged 18 years and older for whom an mRNA Updated Booster is not accessible or clinically appropriate, or who would otherwise not receive a booster dose.
  • In December of 2022, Moderna and Pfizer bivalent doses were expanded for use in California for those 6 months+.
  • In March of 2023, Pfizer bivalent booster doses were expanded for use in California for those 6 months+ who received three monovalent doses.
  • In April of 2023, Moderna and Pfizer bivalent doses were authorized to be used for all doses for everyone 6 months and older. A second bivalent dose was authorized for certain high-risk groups.

Can I receive a booster dose before the recommended time frame?

No, booster doses may not be received before the recommended dosing interval.

Is a booster dose the same amount of vaccine as doses in the original vaccine series?

Vaccine dose varies depending on the vaccine product and the age of the recipient.

For more information on dosage, see Table 1 in the CDC's Interim Clinical Considerations.

How does someone find and receive a booster dose?

Find a vaccine online at My Turn website (MyTurn.ca.gov) or by calling 833-422-4255.

Can a person get a booster dose from a different manufacturer from their original series, or do they need to stay with the brand for their original supplier?

Yes, if a person is 5 years or older, the booster doses may be administered as a mix and match (heterologous) following completion of a primary vaccine series. Eligibility requirements and dosing intervals remain the same regardless of which booster dose is selected.

What is the current CA Public Health Order regarding boosters?

Find important state guidance on activities related to COVID-19 by topic. Sign up to receive alerts for updates to California state public health officer orders and public health mandates related to COVID-19 in 14 languages.

Will digital vaccine records be updated to show that individuals have received a booster dose?

Yes, the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record will be updated and will show that a booster vaccine dose has been administered. However, your previously saved vaccine record will not automatically update, so a new version will need to be re-downloaded to reflect that you have received an additional dose and/or booster dose.

We recommend waiting five days for your new dose to show up in the California Immunization Registry.

If I get a booster dose, will it show on my digital vaccine record?

The QR code on your digital vaccine record does not automatically update. If you receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you'll have to get a new QR code through the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record portal.

We recommend waiting five days for your new dose to show up in the California Immunization Registry.

Will an antibody or other test show whether I need a booster dose?

We do not recommend using antibodies or any other tests to determine protection from the virus at this time. There is significant variability from one antibody test to another, and further studies are needed to ensure correlation between antibody levels and degree of protection from COVID-19 and its variants.

Does receiving a booster eliminate the need for further harm-reduction precautions?

To prevent severe illness and death, a comprehensive approach to harm-reduction is needed. In addition to receiving all eligible doses, it is a good idea to keep all Californians safe by staying SMART: masking up to limit the spread of germs, staying aware of rising cases in your area, staying home if sick, and getting tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine while I'm pregnant? 

Yes. Growing evidence confirms that COVID-19 vaccination before and during pregnancy is safe, effective, and beneficial to both mother and baby. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. When you get vaccinated during pregnancy, the protection you receive from the vaccine is passed on to your baby.

Many recent studies found no differences in pregnancy rates among people who are vaccinated versus people who have not received the vaccine.

Find more resources on CDPH's Pregnancy and COVID-19 Vaccines website.

Should people get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they recently had a COVID-19 infection?

Yes. Getting a COVID-19 vaccination is a safer and more dependable way to build immunity to COVID-19. The vaccine improves the chances of avoiding the worst outcomes of the virus such as severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Studies have shown that the vaccine can reduce the risk of long COVID and reduces the severity of symptoms if a COVID-19 infection does occur. Following infection, people can receive a COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose when there are no more symptoms, generally about 10 days, or they can choose to delay by three months.

How do we know booster doses are safe?

Just as with the initial vaccine series, booster doses went through rigorous scientific review to confirm the safety and efficacy of using subsequent doses to protect against COVID-19. This data was reviewed and compiled from global researchers before being authorized by the FDA.

What side effects should be expected after receiving a booster dose?

People who have received booster doses have reported similarly mild side effects as compared to the side effects they experienced when receiving their initial vaccine dose. They reported a sore arm at the injection site and/or mild flu-like symptoms. These reactions are normal and demonstrate that your body is rebuilding immunity to COVID-19. ​