An image of three vaccine vials in a hand.
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What you need to know

  • People ages 50 and older and those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised are now eligible to get a second COVID-19 booster shot. 
  • People who meet the criteria for a second booster must have received their first booster shot at least four months ago. 
  • Talk to your health care provider about whether or not to get a second booster. 

On March 29, the FDA authorized the second COVID-19 booster shot for the immunocompromised—people who are going through chemotherapy or who have had an organ transplant, among others—and for those ages 50 and older. If you don’t fall within any of the eligible categories, don’t worry: Officials say that there will most likely be another booster shot available to everyone in the fall.

Who is eligible for the second booster shot right now?

Right now, according to the CDC, the following groups of people are eligible to get a second booster shot (as long as they also got their first booster shot at least four months ago): People ages 50 and older; people ages 12 and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised; and people who got two doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. So far, the research has shown that if you’re young and healthy, the second booster doesn’t provide any meaningful benefit.

Why do people need a second booster shot?

With the BA.2 subvariant continuing to spread and cities lifting their mask and vaccine mandates, people who are at high risk of developing serious illness may want to have some added protection. There is also evidence that booster effectiveness declines after four months, and for some people it’s been four to six months since their last shot

Why did the FDA authorize the shot now?

The FDA authorized a second booster for adults ages 50 and older and immunocompromised people without calling an advisory meeting. This decision has drawn some criticism. But the agency’s decision to skip the advisory meeting was likely made out of urgency as the BA.2 subvariant spreads and immunity wanes among vulnerable populations. Dr. Peter Marks, head of the FDA office responsible for vaccine safety and efficacy, said the agency did not call an advisory meeting because the decision was “relatively straightforward.” He cited data from Israel that has shown that a second booster can reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in older adults.

Where can people find answers about the second booster shot?

Talk to your health care provider if you’re not sure whether to get an additional booster. Overall, some doctors agree that people who took their last booster shot more than five or six months ago and who are at high risk—either ages 50 and older or with an underlying condition—should strongly consider taking the second booster shot to protect themselves in case of a new COVID-19 wave. You can find a vaccination location near you here or by texting your zip code to 438829 or calling 1-800-232-0233.