COVID-19 Boosters

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration have authorized an updated COVID-19 booster, called a bivalent booster, that is designed to offer protection from the original COVID-19 virus and the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. Pfizer’s omicron vaccine dose is authorized for people aged 12 years and older. Moderna’s omicron vaccine dose is authorized for people aged 18 years and older. 

The CDC recommends that everyone who is eligible stay up-to-date on vaccinations by getting an updated booster dose at least 2 months after their last COVID-19 shot—either since their last booster dose, or since completing their primary series. 

The updated booster replaces most older boosters, but the following vaccines and boosters will still utilize the original doses:

  • Primary series doses. A primary series usually means two doses of Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson. People who are immunocompromised may receive up to three doses in their primary series. These vaccines are still the original formulations.
  • Boosters for children aged 5-11. These Pfizer boosters are still the original formulation.

Do I need an updated booster?

You should get an updated booster of either Moderna (age 18-plus) or Pfizer (age 12-plus) if:

  • You are age 12 or older and you have completed a primary series of COVID-19 vaccines. A primary series usually means two doses of Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson. People who are immunocompromised may receive up to three doses in their primary series.
  • You are age 12 or older you have previously received a third, fourth, or fifth dose — also known as booster doses.

People should get their omicron dose at least two months after their most recent dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and can wait three months after a recent COVID-19 infection. Learn more about omicron vaccine doses at covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine.

Children age 5-11 should get an original Pfizer booster at least 5 months after their second dose of Pfizer vaccine.

Where can I get my booster?

Vaccine sites and clinics will be available. Click here to find one in your area. El Paso County Public Health Immunization Clinic is offering boosters; call 719-578-3199, option 5 to schedule. It's a good idea to bring your Vaccine Card to your appointment, but no other identification or insurance is required. Boosters, like all COVID-19 vaccines, are free.

Is the booster safe? Is it needed?

Pfizer and Moderna’s omicron doses use the same mRNA-based technology as the original versions of the COVID-19 vaccines. Hundreds of millions of people have safely received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. In clinical studies, the new omicron doses successfully stimulated the immune system to produce antibodies. Antibodies are proteins in the blood that fight specific invaders in the body, like viruses.

Updated boosters are intended to provide optimal protection against the virus and address waning vaccine effectiveness over time.

As of August 31, 2022, Pfizer and Moderna’s original COVID-19 vaccines are only authorized as primary series vaccines for people aged 12 years and older. People too young to receive an omicron dose can still receive a third dose of the original COVID-19 vaccine. 

Children age 5-11
On May 19, 2022, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved a third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 through 11 years. This announcement came after CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine in this younger population. FDA authorized the use of a single booster dose for children 5 through 11 years on May 17, 2022.

Can I get the updated booster if I haven't been vaccinated yet?

No. The updated bivalent formula is in use only for COVID-19 booster doses, and not for initial vaccination. The best way to protect yourself from getting severely ill from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. The CDC recommends that currently unvaccinated people get their primary series (the initial two doses of either Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of the Novavax vaccine), and then wait at least two months to get the updated Pfizer or Moderna booster dose.

Can I mix and match my COVID-19 vaccine and booster?

Yes. Eligible individuals can get either the Pfizer or Moderna updated booster, regardless of whether their primary series or most recent dose was with Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.


About Shots for Immunocompromised People

After completing the primary series, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention recommends that some moderately or severely immunocompromised people, should get an additional primary shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. People age 6 months and up who qualify may receive this additional primary dose. This recommendation pertains to immunocompromised persons who received the mRNA two-dose vaccine series. 

Everyone 5 years and older, including immunocompromised people, should get at least one booster. If you are eligible for an additional primary shot, you should get this dose first before you get a booster. Updated boosters are available for those age 12 and up, while those age 5-11 will receive an original booster.

Answers to common questions are listed below.

Am I considered moderately or severely immunocompromised?

People are considered to be moderately or severely immunocompromised if they have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

People should talk to their healthcare provider about their medical condition, and whether getting an additional primary shot is appropriate for them.

Why do immunocompromised people need an additional primary shot?

An additional primary shot may prevent serious and possibly life-threatening COVID-19 in people who may not have responded to their two-dose mRNA COVID-19 vaccine primary series. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) have been shown to prevent COVID-19 following the two-dose series. Limited information suggests that immunocompromised people who have low or no protection after two shots of mRNA vaccines may have an improved immune (antibody) response after an additional primary dose of the same vaccine.

Can I mix and match vaccine brands for my additional primary shot?

No, the vaccine used for the additional primary shot should be same as the vaccine used for the primary vaccine series. If the mRNA vaccine product given for the first two doses is not available or is unknown, either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered.

When can I receive my third dose?

  • People age 6 months- 4 years who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should get an additional primary shot of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, given at least 8 weeks after the second shot.
  • People age 5 year+ who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should get an additional primary shot of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, given at least 4 weeks after the second shot.
  • People age 6 months+ who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should get an additional primary shot of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, given at least 4 weeks after the second shot.
  • People age 18+ who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive an mRNA dose (Moderna or Pfizer) 4 weeks after their first dose, as well as two boosters (one two months after the second shot and one 4 months later). mRNA vaccines are preferred for all shots.

What is the difference between an additional primary shot and a booster shot?

An additional primary dose is administered to people with moderately or severely compromised immune systems. The additional primary dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is intended to improve immunocompromised people’s response to their vaccine primary series. A booster is administered when a person has completed their vaccine primary series to enhance or restore protection against COVID-19 which may have decreased over time.

Will I need to pay or have insurance?

Additional doses are free. No ID, insurance, or proof of medical history is required to receive an additional dose. Coloradans may self-report their immunocompromising conditions to vaccine providers.