Information about COVID-19 booster doses

Booster doses are currently authorized by the FDA and recommended by CDC for all individuals 12 years and older.
To get your booster, please visit our weekly schedule of COVID-19 vaccination sites for Baltimore City residents

Updated on January 5, 2022 to reflect changes in the eligibility of children 12 years and older to receive Pfizer booster doses and shortening of Pfizer booster interval to 5 months after completing the second dose

Updated on December 17, 2021, to reflect changes in preferential recommendation of mRNA vaccines - Pfizer or Moderna - for all eligible residents

Updated on December 9, 2021, to reflect changes in the eligibility of teens 16-17 years old to receive Pfizer booster doses


Booster doses are currently authorized by the FDA and recommended by CDC for all individuals 12 years and older.

Residents vaccinated with J&J:

  • Any individual 18 years and older vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive a booster dose 2 months after the single J&J dose. Individuals vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson should receive an mRNA (Moderna or Pfizer) booster.
  • If an individual 18 years and old is unable to receive an mRNA vaccine due to allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, or other contraindication a Johnson & Johnson booster dose may be given.

Residents vaccinated with Moderna or Pfizer:

  • Any individual 12 years and older can receive the Pfizer booster 5 months after completion of the second dose.
  • Any individual 18 years and older can receive a Moderna booster 6 months after completion of the second dose.

The CDC now allows mixing and matching of vaccine brands for the booster dose only. Adults can choose which vaccine they receive for their booster dose.


Q: I am eligible for a booster dose, how do I decide which vaccine to get for my booster?

The mRNA boosters (Pfizer or Moderna) are recommended over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be provided as a booster dose if an individual is unable to receive an mRNA vaccine due to allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, or other contraindication. 

Individuals should consider their medical history and the risk and benefits of each vaccine product. If you have questions about which booster to receive do not hesitate to speak with your health care provider. Some studies show that receiving a booster different from the primary series vaccine results in a similar or higher immune response than receiving a booster from the same vaccine product as the primary series.

The potential risk with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine boosters is the rare risks of myocarditis and pericarditis (heart muscle inflammation). Young men, less than 30 years old have the highest risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after receiving the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.

BCHD recommends that women 18-49 years old be provided mRNA vaccine booster doses (Moderna or Pfizer) at the time of vaccine counseling. BCHD recommends that all eligible individuals receive the mRNA vaccine for their primary series and booster dose over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The potential risk with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine primary series and booster is the rare risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) and Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). TTS is a rare condition that causes clotting in the brain and other unusual locations, and low platelets. Women 18-49 years old are at the highest risk for TTS after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.GBS is a rare neurologic condition that can cause ascending muscle paralysis. Males 50-64 years old are the highest risk group of developing GBS after receipt of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Please discuss the potential risks and benefits of a specific vaccine booster with your medical provider.

Q: I received a Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Should I get a booster dose of Pfizer or Moderna? 

Yes, individuals who were vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive an mRNA vaccine booster – Pfizer or Moderna – 2 months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson single dose.

Q. Where can I go for a booster dose in Baltimore City?

At this time, many Baltimore City COVID vaccine providers are also equipped to provide booster doses. However, we encourage residents to call our COVAX Call center at 443-984-8650 Monday-Friday from 8:30am-6:30pm and Saturdays from 9am-1pm to confirm that a particular vaccine clinic is able to provide booster doses. Our list of vaccination clinics can be found online at

Q: What info do I need to bring with me to receive a booster dose? 

Your physical or digital proof of previous vaccinations will be necessary to receive a booster dose.

Q: If we need a booster shot, does that mean that the vaccines aren’t working? 

No. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Omicron and Delta variant. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection over time, especially among certain populations, against mild and moderate disease. 

Q: What are the risks to getting a booster?

For many who have completed their primary series with the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the benefits of getting a booster shot outweigh the known and potential risks. So far, reactions reported after the booster dose were similar to that of the 2-shot Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The third PfizerBioNTech shot were similar to that of the 2-shot primary series. Fatigue and pain at the injection site were the most commonly reported side effects, and overall, most side effects were mild to moderate. However, as with the  2-shot primary series, serious side effects are rare but may occur.

Q: Does this change the definition of “fully vaccinated” for those eligible for booster shots?

People are still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-shot series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the J&J/Janssen vaccine. This definition applies to all people, including those who receive an additional dose as recommended for moderate to severely immunocompromised people and those who receive a booster shot.


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