This article was updated on 10/18/22.

Please note: As we continue to learn more about COVID-19, the information in this article may change. You can find our most up-to-date information about coronavirus here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have now authorized booster shots of all three COVID-19 vaccines. We’ve been getting a lot of questions about children and COVID-19 boosters, so we’ve compiled some answers to your frequently asked questions.

What is a booster shot?

A booster shot refers to an extra dose of a vaccine after the original series of shots has been given. It can be given months or years later. This is common for many vaccines, including influenza (flu), and is now also recommended for the COVID-19 vaccine.

The effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine can wane after several months, so the booster shot amplifies your immune response to the COVID-19 virus, increasing your protection against COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death.

The initial booster shot developed for COVID-19 is known as the monovalent booster and it contains a component from the single original strain of the virus that was present in 2019. The updated bivalent booster came out in fall 2022 and contains components of two strains of the virus – the original strain and one common to the BA.4 and BA.5 strains of the omicron variant. Both Pfizer and Moderna developed bivalent boosters. The bivalent booster protects more fully against the omicron variant.

Who is eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot?

  • Pfizer booster:
    • 6 months to 4 years old: Boosters are not recommended for children in this age group.
    • 5 years old: individuals who are 5 years old are eligible for the original Pfizer booster at least 2 months after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
    • 6 years and older: Individuals in this age group are eligible for a bivalent Pfizer booster shot two months after completion of primary vaccine series or after previous booster.
  • Moderna booster:
    • 6 months to 4 years old: Boosters are not recommended for children in this age group.
    • 5 years old: Individuals in this age group are eligible for a bivalent Pfizer booster shot two months after completion of primary Moderna vaccine series.
    • 18 years and older: Individuals in this age group are eligible for a bivalent Moderna or Pfizer booster shot two months after completion of primary vaccine series or after previous booster.
  • Johnson & Johnson booster:
    • 18 years and older: Bivalent Moderna or Pfizer boosters are available for people ages 18 and older at least two months after receiving their vaccine or a booster shot.
  • Novavax booster:
    • 12 years and older: Individuals in this group are eligible for a Pfizer or Moderna bivalent booster two months after completion of primary Novavax vaccine series.

You can use CDC’s COVID-19 booster tool to learn if and when your child can get boosters to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. Visit the CDC website to learn more about the COVID-19 booster shots.

What is the difference between a booster and an additional dose?

A booster shot refers to an extra dose of a vaccine given after the original series of shots. An additional dose is given to people with compromised immune systems, and it helps the build the same level of immunity as people who are not immunocompromised.

If my child is eligible, should they get a COVID-19 booster shot?

Yes. While your child’s original vaccine continues to protect them against severe illness and death, it will wear off a bit over time. A booster shot provides extra protection against COVID-19.

What side effects can I expect from a COVID booster shot?

You can expect similar side effects to the ones experienced with your initial COVID vaccine. These include soreness in the arm that received the injection, fatigue, chills, fever, headache and muscle and joint pains.

Is it okay to get a booster dose of a different vaccine than the one you originally received?

Yes, boosters can be mixed. If you received Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson for your initial vaccine series, you can receive any available COVID-19 booster shot – it does not have to match the brand you received for your first vaccine, though you will get the best protection if you are boosted with a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Claire Boogaard Claire Boogaard, MD, is a pediatrician at Children's National.

Subscribe to our newsletter and get free parenting tips delivered to your inbox every week!

Related Content

teenager blowing her nos
cartoon boy showing symtoms of RSV
boy giving thumbs up after vaccine
little boy getting flu shot
illustration of kids drawing
rendering of monkeypox virus
sick baby
COVID-19 vaccine vials and needle
mother taking child's temperature
baby getting vaccine
illustration of covid test
mother comforting son
illustration of pregnant woman getting vaccine
person holding heart cutout with the word booster
rendering of the omicron coronavirus variant
illustration of car with presents in snow
baby grabbing surgical mask
little girl who just got vaccinated
0 replies

Leave a Comment

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]