NEWS

Where Can You Get A Booster Shot?

A sign in a public space that says "together we can help stop the spread of COVID-19"

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Key Takeaways

  • COVID-19 booster shots are now available to all individuals 12 and older in the United States.
  • You can mix and match your booster shot if you are 18 or older; those 12–17 can only receive a Pfizer booster.
  • You can receive the booster shot at any location that offers COVID-19 vaccines.

On January 3, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave all fully vaccinated people over the age of 12 in the United States the go-ahead to get a COVID-19 booster shot. The authorization expanded on the eligibility criteria the FDA previously set. 

More than 76 million Americans had received a booster as of January 11, 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and that number should be on the rise with the recent FDA and CDC recommendations. In the coming months, this change will allow millions more Americans to get additional protection.

Robert Quigley, MD, DPhil, Senior Vice President and Global Medical Director of International SOS, told Verywell that the vaccines "have been a critical part of recovering from the pandemic, and booster shots act as an extension of that momentum and protection—especially right before we enter the winter season at which time social distancing will be that much more complicated."

The original vaccine series is still very effective at protecting people against severe COVID illness that requires hospitalization. However, boosters are recommended because data has shown that the effectiveness of the first shots can decrease over time. That means that Americans might be more vulnerable to breakthrough infections, especially as new variants of the virus emerge.

“We’ve seen that there has been an increase in infections and hospitalizations of those who are not fully vaccinated,” Quigley said. “It has been suggested that the COVID-19 vaccines lose their strength in protection over an extended period of time."

Getting a booster shot protects you and the people that you come into contact with as you go about your daily life—some of whom might need extra protection because they're at a higher risk of getting sick or having complications if they do.

Where Can I Get a Booster?

Although each state handles its vaccine rollout differently, you should be able to find free COVID-19 booster shots at the same locations where the original series of vaccinations were offered, such as doctors' offices, pharmacies, hospitals, schools, and community-sponsored events.

Last year, the CDC launched the website Vaccines.gov to help people find where to get vaccinated. The site allows you to search for a vaccination site by zip code, making it quick and easy to find places in your area that offer boosters by appointment or walk-in. 

You can also check your state’s website to find out where you can get a vaccine or booster. For example, California offers MyTurn, New York state offers COVID-19 Vaccine, and Florida has created the Florida COVID-19 Response website to help its citizens find a vaccination site. Your county health website may have additional information as well.

What This Means For You

Experts recommend that people get a COVID booster dose as soon as they are eligible. Adults (18+) can "mix and match" booster shots that are different from the brand received in their primary series. For example, if you received the Johnson & Johnson shot initially, it is safe to get the booster shot by Moderna or Pfizer and vice versa—however, mRNA vaccines are currently recommended over Johnson & Johnson in most situations.

Children and teens 12–17 years old may only get a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster.

If you got the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna shots first, you need to wait five months from your second dose to get a booster. If you got the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine, you can get a booster of your choice after two months. You can look for appointments here.

Do Boosters Have Side Effects?

The booster shots made by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson all use the same formulas that were used for the primary series of shots. However, the Moderna booster shot is half the dose of the original shots.

No matter which booster you receive, it is possible to experience mild side effects similar to those you might have had after your first doses, including:

  • Muscle aches
  • Soreness at the injection site 
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea 

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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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Food and Drug Administration. Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: FDA takes multiple actions to expand use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.