COVID-19 booster shots: Everything you need to know

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Posted at 2:07 PM, Nov 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-04 17:52:47-04

Two weeks ago the CDC signed off on booster shot recommendations, allowing eligible vaccine recipients to choose whatever booster shot they want, regardless of their original shot.

But many people still have questions about whether or not they’re eligible, and what booster shot would provide the greatest antibody response.

Dr. Michael Teng, a virologist and associate professor at USF Health, answers some of those questions.

Let’s start with Johnson and Johnson.

If the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was your original shot, are you eligible for a booster?

“If you’re a J&J vaccine recipient, and you’re 2 months past that time that you got the vaccine, you can go get a booster, you can get any booster you want,” said Dr. Teng.

In that case, what booster shot should you get?

“My personal opinion is that if you boost with an mRNA vaccine after having gotten the J&J, I think you’re gonna be in better shape,” said Dr. Teng.

A recent National Institutes of Health Study showed that boosting the J&J shot with an mRNA-based vaccine provided stronger immune response than with a J&J booster.

“I think the reason that there’s a difference in J&J, plus an mRNA being better than J&J, with a second dose of J&J, is just because it’s presented to your immune system in a little bit different manner,” said Dr. Teng.

Now when it comes to the mRNA-based vaccines, Moderna or Pfizer, who should get a booster in those cases?

“Now these categories are really broad, right? This is above 65, or if you have a medical risk for severe COVID, or if you have an occupational risk,” said Dr. Teng.

You also must wait six months after your second shot.

Dr. Teng said even without a booster you’re still much better protected than without a vaccine at all, but the additional booster shot will just provide greater protection against the possibility of breakthrough cases.

“I think if you want a booster, and you’re 25, and you’re healthy, and you’ve never been sick a day in your life, but you want that booster, then go for the booster and they’re not gonna turn you away,” said Dr. Teng.

For additional information on the CDC's guidelines for booster shots, click here.