Clinical guidance

Get the Facts on the New Omicron Booster

Published September 29, 2022

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There’s an updated COVID booster in town and if you’re thinking, “I’m SO OVER this,” we hear you. But like a terrible houseguest, COVID can’t take a hint and refuses to leave. So let’s look at what the booster can do for you.

What is a booster?

The protection you get with your first round of COVID shots (the primary series) fades over time. A booster gives you, well, a boost so your body’s defenses stay strong.

Don’t we already have a COVID booster?

Yes, we’ve had a COVID booster for a while and it works well. But COVID keeps changing. That’s why you keep hearing about variants — the latest versions of the virus. Sometimes, those new variants mean we have to adjust our defenses. In fact, that’s why the flu vaccine changes each year. Scientists update it to target the flu strains we’re most likely to see.

Why do I need the updated booster?

Think of it like an upgrade. Not only do you get a boost against the original virus, it also protects you from the latest Omicron variants. Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna offer these updated boosters.

Who can get the new booster?

The CDC recommends it for everyone 12 and over (it’s not approved for younger kids). If you recently had a COVID shot — primary series or booster — you have to wait 2 months before getting the updated booster.

And it doesn’t matter which one you get, as long as it’s approved for your age. Anyone 12 and older can get the Pfizer-BioNTech booster. Anyone 18 and older can get the Moderna one.

I just had COVID. Is the booster safe to get?

Yes. But to get the most from it, you might want to wait 2 months. Right now, you’re naturally protected because you’ve been fighting off the virus. In 2 months, your body’s defenses will fade — that’s the perfect time to get the booster.

If you decide to get it sooner, just make sure you don’t have a fever and your symptoms are mostly gone (so you don’t accidentally spread the virus).

I’m confused. Help?

Check out this handy tool from the CDC. Scroll down to Find out when you can get your booster. Answer a few questions for you or a family member and it tells you if you can get the booster now. 

Where can I get the booster?

Find a location near you. If you need more help, check with your doctor.

Should I wait to get the booster until COVID gets worse?

No. It’s too hard to predict and waiting means you’re more likely to get COVID. Plus, it takes 2 weeks to get full protection from the booster, so the sooner the better.

I’m not worried about getting too sick. Why get a booster?

The booster gives you much better odds of avoiding a serious illness. Plus, when more people get vaccines and boosters, we’re less likely to see new variants.

Also, you better protect yourself against long COVID, which can affect even people who don’t get very sick. Long COVID can cause issues like brain fog, fatigue, tiredness, chest pain, joint pain, and more.

Are there any new side effects with the updated booster?

No. The typical side effects are minor, like redness or soreness where you get the shot, tiredness, and headache.

Can I get the booster and my flu shot at the same time?

Yes. There’s no risk in getting both at the same visit.