COVID-19 boosters: Who's eligible, when?

Colorful COVID booster shot

This information was current as of Sept. 2, 2021. Additional guidance on boosters was shared on Sept. 24. Please visit the CDC website to learn more about this guidance. 



In this article: 

  • Medical experts announce plans to offer additional dose of Pifzer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines starting this fall.

According to U.S. health authorities, a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for protection against the virus. This recommendation comes after months of research monitoring vaccine recipients and their immunity, and in response to the growing Delta surge across the country.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration authorized a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for certain high-risk, immune-compromised patients. An independent panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unanimously endorsed this decision.

This week, public health and medical experts also announced plans to offer an additional dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines beginning this fall, subject to additional evaluation by the FDA, CDC and a CDC advisory committee.

Information for high-risk individuals

Certain people with weakened immune systems are authorized and recommended to receive a third shot of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. People in this category include:

  • Those receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Those who have received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Those who have received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Those with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Those with advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Those undergoing active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune system

These individuals 12 and older are now eligible to receive a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine and those 18 and older are eligible to receive the Moderna vaccine.

At this time, the authorization does not apply to high-risk, immunocompromised people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, although an additional dose of this vaccine is expected to be needed. Health authorities are waiting for more safety and efficacy data first.

We know the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and death due to COVID-19. But, those with weakened immune systems may experience less immunity from the vaccine and benefit from the additional protection of another dose. People with moderately or severely weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are at risk of more serious, prolonged illness.

If you are eligible to receive an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine based on the recent authorization, talk with a health care provider about your medical condition, whether a third dose is right for you and how to get your dose, if recommended.

To learn more about the evolution of vaccines and other frequently asked questions, visit the Providence COVID-19 vaccine information hub

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