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

Oct. 20, 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 6 months of age and older is eligible for the primary COVID-19 vaccination series.

Additionally, everyone 5+ is now eligible for the updated booster vaccines designed to increase immunity to the currently-circulating omicron variant. (Related: How Effective Is the Updated Booster Against Omicron? & 5 More Questions, Answered)

Which vaccine is available to you or your child varies by age, and some people may not be eligible for their booster shot immediately.

Everyone 18+

Anyone 18+ years of age is eligible for primary vaccination series and a COVID-19 booster shot.

If you're unvaccinated and need to start your primary vaccine series, it's recommended that you get your first shot as soon as possible. If you're recovering from COVID-19, you will need to wait to get vaccinated until your symptoms have resolved and you've met the criteria to end isolation.

If you've completed your primary vaccine series but haven't yet received the omicron-specific booster, make a plan to do so. (Related: Are Booster Shots Necessary?)

However, if you've recently completed your primary vaccination series, received a booster dose of the original vaccine or had COVID-19, you may not be eligible for the updated booster just yet.

The FDA states you should wait until at least at least two months have passed since your last vaccination (primary series or booster dose) before receiving the omicron-specific booster shot. In addition, people recently infected with COVID-19 may wait at least three months post-infection before getting the omicron booster. However, individual factors such as risk of severe COVID-19 disease or community outbreaks should be taken into account when determining timing of booster vaccination after infection.

The best way to determine when and which vaccines you need is to use the CDC's vaccine and booster tool.

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.

Teens Ages 12 to 17

Teens ages 12 to 17 are eligible for primary vaccination series and a COVID-19 booster shot.

If you or your teen is unvaccinated and needs to start the primary vaccine series, it's recommended that you complete the first shot as soon as possible. If you or your teen is recovering from COVID-19, wait to get vaccinated until symptoms have resolved and the criteria to end isolation has been met.

If you or your teen has completed the primary vaccine series but hasn't yet received the omicron-specific booster, make a plan to do so. (Related: Are Booster Shots Necessary?)

However, people who have recently completed their primary vaccination series, received a booster dose of the original vaccine or had COVID-19 may not be eligible for the updated booster just yet.

The FDA states you should wait until at least at least two months have passed since your last vaccination (primary series or booster dose) before receiving the omicron-specific booster shot. In addition, people recently infected with COVID-19 may wait at least three months post-infection before getting the omicron booster. However, individual factors such as risk of severe COVID-19 disease or community outbreaks should be taken into account when determining timing of booster vaccination after infection.

The best way to determine when and which vaccines you need is to use the CDC's vaccine and booster tool.

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.

Kids Ages 5 to 11

Kids 5+ are eligible for primary vaccination series and a COVID-19 booster shot.

If your child is unvaccinated and needs to start the primary vaccine series, it's recommended that you complete the first shot as soon as possible. If your child is recovering from COVID-19, wait to get vaccinated until symptoms have resolved and the criteria to end isolation has been met.

If your child has completed the primary vaccine series but hasn't yet received the omicron-specific booster, make a plan to do so. Kids who are 5 years of age are eligible only for the  Pfizer bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine, but kids ages 6+ can receive either the Pfizer or Moderna bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine.

(Related: Are Booster Shots Necessary?)

However, kids who have recently completed their primary vaccination series or had COVID-19 may not be eligible for the updated booster just yet.

The FDA states you should wait until at least at least two months have passed since your last vaccination before receiving the omicron-specific booster shot. In addition, people recently infected with COVID-19 may wait at least three months post-infection before getting the omicron booster. However, individual factors such as risk of severe COVID-19 disease or community outbreaks should be taken into account when determining timing of booster vaccination after infection.

The best way to determine when and which vaccines your child needs is to use the CDC's vaccine and booster tool.

If your child needs 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.

Young children under the age of 5

Young children between the ages of 6 months to 4 years are eligible for the primary vaccination series with either Pfizer or Moderna. (Related: 5 Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines for Young Children, Answered)

They are not, however, yet eligible for the Pfizer or Moderna bivalent boosters that target the omicron variant.

Use the CDC's COVID vaccine tool to determine which vaccine your child is eligible for.

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