Guidance for COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters

Supplemental doses of COVID-19 vaccines, also called boosters, are authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for most people age 5 or older. Initial immunity from the vaccines can diminish over time and a booster shot is another dose of a vaccine that gives a “boost” to your immunity and helps protect you from the virus and severe COVID-19.

UNC Health strongly recommends everyone who is eligible get a booster vaccine. Established UNC Health patients can schedule their booster dose through My UNC Chart. Booster doses are also widely available at local pharmacies and through the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). If you are not a UNC Health patient, please visit the NCDHHS website for a full listing of where vaccines are available in your community.

Second Boosters Now Recommended For Some Individuals

The FDA recently expanded authorization – and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their guidance to recommend – a second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccines for the following groups at least four months after receiving their first booster dose:

  • Individuals ages 50 and older
  • Immunocompromised individuals ages 18 and older are eligible for either Pfizer or Moderna if it has been 4+ months since the receipt of their first booster dose. 
  • Immunocompromised individuals ages 12 and older are eligible for Pfizer if it has been 4+ months since the receipt of their first booster dose.
  • Individuals ages 18 and older who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine for both the primary series and first booster dose if it has been 4+ months since their first booster dose. 

Patients who meet this updated eligibility criteria can schedule their vaccine appointment for a second booster dose at UNC Health locations through My UNC Chart. Eligible patients can also schedule appointments outside of UNC Health through the NC DHHS website

If You Are Immunocompromised

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that individuals with weakened immune systems who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines obtain a third dose of either Pfizer or Moderna, as part of a three-dose, primary series. You’re eligible for your third dose of either of these vaccines one month after your second dose. This three-dose series should be followed at least three months later with a fourth booster dose. 

Individuals with a weakened immune system who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive an additional with a Pfizer or Moderna shot at least two months after their initial dose followed by a booster dose for a total of three doses.

After you have received your additional primary shots, refer to CDC guidelines about if you need to schedule your booster shot.

Examples of those with weakened immune systems include, but are not limited to, those who have had a solid organ transplant such as a kidney or lung, have advanced or untreated HIV, or are undergoing chemotherapy or receiving other immune-suppressing treatment.

If You are NOT Immunocompromised

Pfizer or Moderna

If you received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and it’s been at least five months since your initial doses, you are eligible for a Pfizer booster if you are 5 years or older and a Moderna booster if you are 18 years or older. You can get the same brand of shot you got the first time or “mix and match” and choose the other.

The FDA recently expanded authorization – and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their guidance to recommend – a second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccines for individuals ages 50 and older groups at least four months after receiving their first booster dose.

Johnson & Johnson

Anyone age 18 or older who received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine two or more months ago is eligible for a booster dose of any of three vaccine brands.

Experts are encouraging Johnson & Johnson recipients to get either Moderna or Pfizer as a booster shot.

If you are unsure if you qualify, talk to your healthcare provider about whether getting a booster dose is appropriate for you.

For those who are not yet eligible to get a booster vaccine, please check back here often. UNC Health continues to closely monitor announcements from the FDA and CDC and will update our guidance accordingly.

How to Get a Booster Dose If You Qualify

Established UNC Health patients can schedule their booster dose through My UNC Chart. Booster doses are also widely available at local pharmacies and through the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). If you are not a UNC Health patient, please visit the NCDHHS website for a full listing of where vaccines are available in your community.

Mixing & Matching Vaccines

Most people now can choose which of the vaccines they receive as a booster shot. For example, if you were initially fully vaccinated with Pfizer, you can opt to stick with Pfizer or get a Moderna booster. This is called mix-and-match. In accordance with the FDA and CDC guidelines, UNC Health will allow patients to mix-and-match COVID vaccines.

Get Your Vaccine Today

Schedule an appointment to receive your COVID-19 Vaccine at a UNC Health facility. We offer both two-dose (Pfizer and Moderna) and one-dose (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines.

Schedule your Appointment