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COVID-19 Vaccine Booster: Update From Johns Hopkins Medicine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommend COVID-19 boosters or additional vaccine doses for individuals who meet certain criteria. To help you determine if you are eligible and to schedule an appointment, please read each step below carefully.

  1. Eligibility
  2. COVID Vaccine History
  3. Medical History Related to Immunosuppression
  4. Schedule

A few things to remember:

  • Johns Hopkins Medicine has limited booster/additional dose appointments at some of its Maryland locations.
  • Retail pharmacies, mobile vaccination clinics (walk-up) and local and state vaccination sites offer booster appointments. Some locations may offer walk-up vaccination times.
  • A booster shot is administered when a person has completed their vaccine series, and protection against the virus has decreased over time.
  • An additional dose is administered to people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. This additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is intended to improve immunocompromised people’s response to their initial vaccine series.

Step 1: Are you eligible?

A booster or additional dose is recommended if you:

  • Are 18 or older and received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.
  • Are 18 or older and received both required doses of the Moderna vaccine, with the second dose at least five months ago.
  • Are 12 or older and received both required doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with the second dose at least five months ago.
  • Have a medical condition associated with immunosuppression

Step 2: Review Details Based on Your Earlier COVID-19 Vaccines

My original vaccine(s) were:

Pfizer Original Vaccine Series

The CDC recommends a booster for individuals who:

  • Are age 12 or older and received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at least five months ago. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccine and booster authorized for individuals ages 12–17.
  • Individuals ages 18 and older may choose to receive any FDA-authorized vaccine as a booster dose. The CDC recommends individuals receive either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (mRNA COVID-19 vaccines) in most situations. If you receive the Moderna booster, you should be given half the original Moderna dose. Please be sure to confirm this with the person giving you the booster shot.

Moderna Original Vaccine Series

The CDC recommends a booster for individuals who:

  • Are age 18 or older and received a second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least five months ago. Individuals ages 18 and older may choose to receive any FDA-authorized vaccine as a booster dose. The CDC recommends individuals receive either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (mRNA COVID-19 vaccines) boosters in most situations. If you receive the Moderna booster, you should be given half the original Moderna dose. Please be sure to confirm this with the person giving you the booster shot.

Janssen/Johnson & Johnson

The CDC recommends a booster for individuals who:

  • Are ages 18 and older and received the J&J COVID-19 vaccine more than two months ago. Individuals age 18 or older may choose to receive any FDA-authorized vaccine as a booster dose. The CDC recommends individuals receive either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna in most situations, but Johnson & Johnson remains a choice.

 


Step 3: Identify If You are Considered Immunosuppressed

The CDC and the FDA recommend an additional dose at least 28 days after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or two months after the first dose of Janssen/Johnson & Johnson for those who have a qualifying medical condition associated with immunosuppression.

These include people who:

  • 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 two years, or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Have moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Are diagnosed with HIV and have a high viral load or low CD4 count, or are not currently taking medication to treat HIV
  • Are taking drugs like high-dose steroids or other medications that may cause severe suppression of the immune system

If you are not sure whether you fit into any of these categories, please contact your medical provider. For more details, please review the CDC’s information for moderately to severely immunocompromised people.


Step 4: Get Your Booster or Additional Dose

Mix and Match

Individuals ages 18 and older can receive a COVID-19 booster or additional dose that is a different brand than their initial dose or doses. The CDC recommends that individuals age 18 or older receive either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for either a booster or additional dose. While these two mRNA vaccines are preferred, the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine can be used as a booster in some situations.

Individuals ages 12–17 can receive the Pfizer-BioNTech booster, as this is the only booster currently authorized for this age group. A parent or guardian must accompany any individual under the age of 18 to the vaccine clinic and sign the COVID-19 vaccine consent form. Children ages 5–17 who do not have a signed consent form will not receive the COVID-19 vaccine or booster from Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Scheduling

We encourage eligible patients to use all available resources to get a booster or additional dose. Retail pharmacies, mobile vaccination clinics (walk-up) and local and state vaccination sites offer booster appointments. Some locations may offer walk-up vaccination times.

Johns Hopkins Medicine has limited booster/additional dose appointments at some of its Maryland locations. Eligible patients can schedule an appointment online through MyChart, or call 443-997-1875 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Patients will not be able to request a specific booster vaccine brand but you may be able to choose a location that is administering your preferred vaccine. Click here to see the vaccine brands offered at our sites.

Updated January 10, 2022

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