This article was updated on 6/21/22.

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.

Who is eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot?

COVID booster eligibility

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.

Are COVID-19 booster shots different from the original vaccines?

The Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson boosters are the same as their original shots, while the Moderna booster is half of the original dosage.

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. However, if you are 5 to 17 years old and received the Pfizer vaccine you are only eligible for a Pfizer booster.

Will a booster protect me from the omicron coronavirus variant?

Public health and medical professionals worldwide are rushing to learn more about the omicron variant. What we do know is that the booster shot amplifies your immune response to the COVID-19 virus, giving you the best chance of fighting off variants of COVID-19.

Are immunocompromised people eligible to receive additional doses of vaccine?

Immunocompromised children ages 5-11 years  should receive an additional (3rd) dose of Pfizer as part of their primary series of vaccines 28 days following their second shot.  They should also receive a booster dose at least 3 months after the 3rd dose.

Immunocompromised children 12+ years of age should receive an additional (3rd) dose of Pfizer as part of their primary series of vaccines 28 days following their second shot.  They should receive one booster shot at least 3 months after the 3rd dose and a second booster shot at least 4 months after the first booster shot.

Immunocompromised people age 18+ who received Moderna should receive an additional (3rd) dose of Moderna as part of their primary series of vaccines 28 days following their second shot.  They should receive one booster shot at least 3 months after the 3rd dose and a second booster shot at least 4 months after the first booster shot.

Immunocompromised people age 18+ who received Johnson &Johnson should receive a dose of Pfizer or Moderna at least 4 weeks after their J&J shot.  They should also receive one booster shot at least 2 months after the 2nd dose (Pfizer or Moderna preferred) and a second booster shot at least 4 months after the first booster (Pfizer or Moderna required).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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
child getting covid test
little boy getting flu shot
cartoon of gut fighting viruses
father checking son's temperature
boy giving thumbs up after vaccine
red coronavirus molecule
school children with vaccine bottle
sick girl in bed
cartoon boy showing symtoms of RSV
Doctor vaccinating a teenage boy