NEWS

When Should You Get Your Second Booster Shot?

Hands reaching for booster shot vial.

Ellen Lindner / Verywell

Key Takeaways

  • It’s best to get your second booster shot right away, especially for high-risk individuals.
  • You can choose to delay the second booster shot if you’ve recently recovered from COVID-19, but it’s not necessary.
  • Second booster shots remain effective against COVID-19.

In March, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized a second COVID-19 vaccine booster shot for certain individuals who got their first booster dose more than four months prior, which includes:

  • Adults aged 50 years and older
  • Individuals aged 12 or older with moderate or severe immunocompromise
  • Recipients of two doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The second booster dose is intended to increase the protection levels for higher-risk individuals. But should you get boosted as soon as you're eligible?

Should You Wait Before Getting Your Second Booster?

People are still considered up to date with their COVID-19 vaccination even without getting a second booster shot. Some are weighing the benefits of getting it immediately or waiting until the fall, or when a new surge or variant arises.

“Because it is so hard to predict when we might get infected, we generally recommend getting vaccinations whenever they are due or indicated,” Mark Loafman, MD, MPH, family physician at Cook County Health, told Verywell. “Fine-tuning the timing to coincide with travel plans or other scenarios that may pose a much higher risk can be done in some cases, though again, it is generally best to not delay vaccinations.” 

The decision to delay or get the second booster shot immediately is somewhat of a personal decision, Ashley Lipps, MD, an infectious disease physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Verywell. Individuals who are at high risk for severe disease—such as those who are immunocompromised or those who are at increased risk of exposure due to employment or other reasons—might want to consider getting the second booster right away, she added.

For those who had a COVID-19 infection in the past three months, waiting between booster doses may be reasonable, experts said. However, you don’t need to wait and it is OK to get the second booster right after recovering from illness, Lipps said.

“It does make sense to delay the first or next vaccine dose until a month or two after an infection with COVID-19,” Loafman said. “This is not because of any increased risk or harm of vaccination after an infection, but rather, to take advantage of the natural immunity that infection will trigger.”

Patients who received monoclonal antibody infusions to treat COVID-19 were usually advised to wait in case it interacted with the vaccine. However, “we have more experience with this now and there is not much reason for concern, but those affected are being counseled on timing based on their unique circumstances,” Loafman added.

What This Means For You

If you’re eligible to get your second booster shot, it’s best to get it immediately. You may choose to wait if you recently just recovered from COVID-19 or you want to time it with upcoming travel plans, but the general recommendation is to avoid delaying your dose.

Are Second Booster Shots Still Effective?

Second booster shots remain effective against COVID-19, experts said. 

“Immunity from vaccines or prior infection can wane over time, so booster doses are important to maintain protection from severe illness and death from COVID-19, particularly in those who are elderly or immunocompromised,” Lipps said. “There is no evidence to suggest that vaccine effectiveness or overall benefit wane as you get more shots.”

Ultimately, getting the second booster shot is up to you, based on the benefits and risks it may provide based on your individual situation. If you’re more likely to get severe COVID-19 or be exposed to the virus, or live in an area with medium to high COVID-19 community levels, it may be helpful to give your antibodies that boost.

“The booster triggers the immune system to make more antibodies, and those antibodies continue to be highly effective at preventing the serious illness COVID-19 can cause,” Loafman said. “The higher the antibody level at the time of an infection, the quicker the virus is destroyed and the less serious the illness will be.”

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 vaccine boosters.