WHEN SHOULD I WORRY ABOUT...

COVID-19 Vaccine & Booster Eligibility: A Guide to What's Available (By Age) Right Now

May 23, 2022 - Katie McCallum

Let's face it: COVID-19 vaccine and booster eligibility and timing have become a little confusing.

Here's which vaccines are available to what age groups right now, as well as how to start your primary vaccine series and get your booster:

Here's who's eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine or booster right now

Everyone 5+ can now receive both a COVID-19 vaccine and booster dose. Some people are also eligible for a second booster dose.

Which vaccine is available to you or your child varies by age, and not everyone is eligible for their booster dose(s) immediately.

Kids Ages 5 to 11

Primary Vaccine Series

Children ages 5 to 11 are eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which is administered as two doses given three weeks apart. These are pediatric doses — one-third the amount of vaccine given to adults and adolescents. (Related: COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids Ages 5 to 11: What Parents Need to Know)

Immunocompromised children between the ages of 5 and 11 should receive an additional primary dose (or, "third shot") of the Pfizer vaccine 28 days after their second shot.

Booster Dose

All children ages 5 to 11 are also now eligible for a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine after five months have passed since their initial vaccine series.

Second Booster Dose

Children ages 5 to 11 are not currently eligible for a second booster dose.

Teens Ages 12 to 17

Initial Vaccine Series

Adolescents ages 12 to 17 are eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which is administered as two doses given three weeks apart. (Related: COVID-19 Vaccine, Boosters & Your Teen: 5 Things to Know)

Immunocompromised teens between the ages of 12 and 17 should receive an additional primary dose (or, "third shot") of the Pfizer vaccine 28 days after their second shot.

Booster Dose

If five months have passed since your teen's initial doses, he or she is eligible for a booster dose of Pfizer.

Second Booster Dose

Immunocompromised teens between the ages of 12 and 17 are eligible to receive a second booster dose.

Everyone 18+

Initial Vaccine Series

Anyone who is 18 years of age or older is eligible to receive either the:

  • Pfizer vaccine (administered as two doses given three weeks apart)
  • Moderna vaccine (administered as two doses given four weeks apart)
  • Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine (administered as one dose)*

If you are moderately or severely immunocompromised, you should also get an additional dose (or, "third shot") of Pfizer or Moderna after 28 days have passed since the second shot.

Booster Dose

Adults 18+ are also eligible for a booster shot of any* of the above vaccines if:

  • 5 months have passed since your initial Pfizer or Moderna series
  • 2 months have passed since your initial J&J shot

Second Booster

Adults who are 50+ or are immunocompromised are eligible to receive a second booster dose if at least four months have passed since your first booster dose.

*Note: The CDC has stated that, in most situations, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are preferred over the J&J vaccine for primary and booster vaccination due to risk of rare but serious adverse events.

Here's how you or your child can get a COVID-19 vaccine

If you need a COVID-19 vaccine or booster, you can schedule an appointment with a primary care doctor near you or get vaccinated at a local pharmacy.

Minors between the ages of 5 and 17 must have a parent or guardian accompany them to the appointment and sign a consent form.

What you need to know about the available COVID-19 vaccines

So far, two COVID-19 vaccines are fully approved and one has received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA:

  • The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (fully approved)
  • The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (fully approved)
  • The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, also known as the Johnson & Johnson, (J&J) vaccine*
     

*Note: The CDC has stated that, in most situations, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are preferred over the J&J vaccine for primary and booster vaccination due to risk of rare but serious adverse events.

Some people may also be eligible for an additional dose of vaccine. (Related: How Do I Know If I Need a COVID-19 Booster Shot?)

 

Related Reading:

Stay up-to-date
Stay connected with Houston Methodist year round. By signing up, you will receive our e-newsletter with articles, videos, health tips and more.
Please Enter Email
Please Enter Valid Email