Booster Doses: What You Need To Know
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Eligibility

At this time and in accordance with CDC guidance, the following groups of New Yorkers should receive their COVID-19 booster vaccine dose:

  • New Yorkers 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,
  • New Yorkers aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series.

 

The following groups of New Yorkers may receive their COVID-19 booster vaccine dose:

  • New Yorkers aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks, and
  • New Yorkers aged 18–64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

 

Please note that at this time, booster doses are only available to individuals that received the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine as their primary vaccine series. Individuals who received Moderna or Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine should not seek a booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Scheduling

How to Schedule Your Booster Dose: 

  • Free booster doses are widely available at pharmacies, local health departments, clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers and other locations across New York State.
  • All of New York State’s mass vaccination sites are currently offering the COVID-19 booster dose to eligible New Yorkers. Visit Am I ELIGIBLE tool to schedule an appointment at a State-operated vaccination site. Walk-in appointments for booster doses are accepted at New York State sites for all eligible individuals.
  • To find a nearby provider, search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.
  • You can also contact your local pharmacy or provider to see if they are administering booster doses.
  • In order to prove eligibility, eligible New Yorkers are required provide written self-attestation confirming eligibility, which providers must collect.

Booster Doses vs. Additional Doses

According to the CDC, sometimes people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised do not build enough (or any) protection when they first get a vaccination. When this happens, getting another dose of the vaccine can sometimes help them build more protection against the disease. This appears to be the case for some immunocompromised people and COVID-19 vaccines. CDC recommends moderately to severely immunocompromised people consider receiving an additional (third) dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) at least 28 days after the completion of the initial 2-dose mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series. For information on additional doses for some immunocompromised individuals, please see the statement available here.

In contrast, a “booster dose” refers to another dose of a vaccine that is given to someone who built enough protection after vaccination, but then that protection decreased over time (this is called waning immunity).

 

Additional Doses

According to the CDC, moderately to severely immunocompromised people should receive an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, and may not build the same level of immunity to the two-dose vaccine series compared to people who are not immunocompromised. This additional dose intended to improve immunocompromised people’s response to their initial vaccine series.

An additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (at least 28 days following the last dose of the primary COVID-19 vaccine series) should be considered for people with moderate to severe immune compromise due to a medical condition or receipt of immunosuppressive medications or treatments. These conditions and treatments include but are not limited to:

  • Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
  • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
  • Receipt of CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ≥20mg prednisone or equivalent per day), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory.

Factors to consider in assessing the general level of immune competence in a patient include disease severity, duration, clinical stability, complications, comorbidities, and any potentially immunosuppressing treatment.

People should talk to their healthcare provider about their medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them.

Safety and Efficacy

  • COVID-19 vaccines are working very well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant.
  • Our top priority remains staying ahead of the virus and protecting New Yorkers from COVID-19 with safe, effective, and long-lasting vaccines, especially in the context of a constantly changing virus and epidemiological landscape.
  • Our federal health and medical experts have been analyzing the scientific data closely from the United States and around the world to understand how long the protection from infection and severe illness will last and how we might maximize this protection.
  • The available data show that protection against COVID-19 infection has decreased over time following the initial doses of vaccination for certain, currently-eligible populations.
  • We will continue to follow the science and communicate openly with New Yorkers as additional data becomes available.