December 1, 2020 was the day that The COVID-19 vaccine became available to the general public. Since that day, there has been quite the debate on whether or not people should get the vaccine. There are several misconceptions about the vaccine going around. For example, there is one that claims that the vaccine will put a tracker in you, and there is another one that claims that if someone gets the vaccine, they will end up in the hospital from side effects. These misconceptions have contributed to some people not getting the vaccine. Similar confusion and misinformation swirls around COVID boosters.
So what’s the booster? The COVID-19 booster was available to the general public on October 21st, 2021. What exactly is the difference between the vaccine and the booster shot? Here are five ways that the booster differs from the vaccine.
The Booster Shot Is For People Who Have Received Two Doses Of The COVID-19 Vaccine Already
It is not recommended for anyone who has not received the first two doses of the COVID-19 Vaccine to receive the booster shot. Booster shots are given to people who already have developed a strong immunization from receiving the first two doses. It is important to know about the status of your immune system so you can tell if you should receive the booster or not.
Receiving The Booster Will Keep You “Up To Date” On Being Vaccinated
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person is considered up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations when they have received all of their recommended COVID-19 vaccines along with their booster doses when they are eligible to receive them. Someone who has received the vaccine and the booster is up to date, while someone who has only received the vaccine is fully vaccinated. Also obviously, someone who has not received the vaccine is unvaccinated.
Some Boosters Contain A Smaller Dose Than The Initial Vaccine
While the COVID-19 booster shots contain the same ingredients as the original COVID-19 vaccines, depending on what shot you take, the booster may contain a smaller dose than the original. For example, if you choose to get the Moderna booster shot, the dose is half the amount of the original vaccine.
You Need To Be At Least 12 Years old to Receive A Booster Shot
The CDC website has a guide for who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and a booster shot. While the eligible age for receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is five years and older, the eligible age for receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot is twelve years and older. As for the Moderna and J&J / Janssen vaccines, the eligible age for anyone to receive those is eighteen years and older.
You Do Not Need To Get The Same Booster Shot As You Did For The Vaccine
Unlike the original vaccine, The CDC does not advise against getting a different booster shot that is the same as the vaccine you previously received. For example, if the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine that you received was a Pfizer-BioNTech shot, then the CDC would advise for your second shot to be a Pfizer-BioNTech shot as well. However, regardless of the type of vaccine that you received, if you received it, you are encouraged to choose the booster shot that is the best for you.
I hope that this clears up some of the confusion around the booster and what exactly the booster is. I encourage everyone reading this to find sources that they can trust around the COVID-19 vaccine and the booster. The more that we learn about the pandemic, the more we can work together to keep one another safe.
Above graphic by Christina Norris, VOX alumni intern