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FAQ: COVID-19 booster shots

Should I get a booster shot?

The CDC recommends updated bivalent COVID-19 booster shots for individuals aged 5 and older:

  • Individuals whose most recent COVID-19 vaccine was at least two months ago should get a should get a bivalent booster as soon as they are eligible. Individuals aged 6 and older may get either Pfizer or Moderna boosters. Five-year-olds can only get the Pfizer booster.
  • Individuals who have recently had COVID-19 may consider delaying the next booster dose by three months from the date of symptom onset or positive test (if asymptomatic).
  • Boosters are not currently recommended for children younger than 5.

All MIT students, staff, faculty, and affiliates who are eligible to receive an initial COVID-19 booster are required to receive one in order to maintain access to MIT buildings.

October 14, 2022

Where can I get a booster shot?

MIT will keep the community informed about Institute-sponsored COVID-19 booster clinics. Boosters are also available at many local pharmacies. You can find locations near you by searching vaccines.gov, texting your ZIP code to 438829, or calling 1-800-232-0233.

December 10, 2021

Which booster shot should I get?

The CDC’s recommendations allow a mix-and-match approach to COVID booster shots for everyone other than five-year-olds, who can only get a Pfizer booster.

Otherwise, you may choose to get a booster of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, even if this is not the same type of vaccine you received originally.

October 14, 2022

When should I get a booster?

You should get a booster right away if you are now eligible.

October 14, 2022

Are booster shots the same dose as the initial shot(s)?

No. The updated COVID-19 booster vaccines are bivalent vaccines that protect against two different strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus — the original strain and the now-prevalent Omicron variant. Additionally, the Moderna booster is half the dose of the vaccine used in the initial two-shot series (50 μg vs. 100 μg).

October 14, 2022

What is a bivalent COVID-19 booster? How is it different from the monovalent booster?

The bivalent COVID-19 vaccines contain mRNA components from two strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virusthe original strain and the now-prevalent Omicron (BA.4/BA.5) variant. The monovalent booster contains mRNA components only from the original viral strain.

October 14, 2022

Will I experience side effects from a COVID-19 booster shot?

Maybe. According to the CDC, side effects experienced after booster shots are similar to those reported after initial vaccination. The most common side effects are injection-site pain, fatigue, and headache, usually occurring one day after vaccination.

October 29, 2021

Can I get my bivalent COVID-19 booster and my flu shot at the same time?

Yes, according to the CDC, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time if you are eligible and the timing coincides.

October 14, 2022

If I don’t get a booster shot, am I still considered “fully vaccinated?”

Yes, you are still considered “fully vaccinated,” but you may not be “up to date” with your COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC defines an individual as being “fully vaccinated” two weeks after the second dose of a two-shot series (Pfizer or Moderna vaccines) or two weeks after receiving a single dose of the J&J vaccine. However, you are only considered to be up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines if you have received all doses in the primary series of shots and received the most recent booster dose recommended for you by CDC.

October 14, 2022

I lost my COVID-19 vaccine card, which will need to be updated when I get my booster. How can I get a replacement?
  • If you were fully vaccinated at MIT Medical and are a member of the MIT community (not including Broad Institute), we can issue you a replacement card. Just send an email to vaccard@med.mit.edu with your name, date of birth, and, if possible, the approximate date you received the vaccine at MIT. We’ll send instructions for picking up your replacement card.
  • If you got your vaccine elsewhere in Massachusettsfollow these instructions to get a replacement card or a digital copy of your vaccine record.
  • If you were vaccinated in another state, contact your vaccine provider directly or contact the immunization information system (IIS) for that state. All vaccination providers must report COVID-19 vaccinations to their state’s IIS, which can provide a replacement card if yours is lost.

October 29, 2021