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What’s the difference between a booster and ‘additional dose’ of the COVID-19 vaccine?

What’s the difference between a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and a booster shot? That question has swirled around social media as both terms have been used regularly in reports and updates from public health experts.

The short answer is that both are a ‘third shot’ of the vaccine, but it comes down to classification.

An additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine distributed by Pfizer and Moderna is intended to serve severely immunocompromised individuals. It should be given at least 28 days after the second dose.


Some examples of those who are severely immunocompromised would be those with cancer or receiving cancer treatment, a person with HIV, those who have received organ transplants, or those who have health care providers that have diagnosed them with a moderate-to-severe primary immunodeficiencies.

Booster shots are administered to those who don’t qualify for an additional dose. Anyone who isn’t severely immunocompromised should receive a booster shot eight months after they receive the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

If you received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, the best answer right now is to wait. The federal government is waiting on data from studies on the best timeline for receiving a booster shot or second dose.



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