1. Who should get the new “bivalent” COVID boosters?

Anyone who is eligible should get a bivalent booster vaccination—that means previously vaccinated people 12 years and older for the Pfizer vaccine, or 18 years and older for the Moderna vaccine.

2. How are these boosters different from the older boosters?

The bivalent booster vaccines have been reformulated to offer greater protection against Omicron variants than previous booster vaccines.

3. Can you get your flu shot and your COVID booster at the same time, or should you space them out?

Yes, you can get both your flu shot and your COVID booster at the same time.

4. Can you mix and match? For example, if you got the Pfizer primary series and booster, can you get a Moderna booster?

Is there any benefit to mixing and matching? Yes, it is possible to mix and match vaccines. Some early data suggests that mixing the booster vaccines (receiving Pfizer for the primary series and a Moderna booster, or vice versa) may have some benefit, but there is no definitive answer on this. The best vaccine is the one most readily available.

5. How long should you wait after COVID infection before getting a booster?

CDC guidance states that you “may consider delaying a booster dose by three months from symptom onset or positive COVID test.” Some experts recommend waiting four to six months after a prior COVID infection or four to six months after your last COVID vaccine before getting your booster vaccination.

6. Does COVID booster vaccination lower the risk of transmitting COVID to close contacts, such as patients, colleagues and family members?

Yes, data in the medical literature suggests that being up to date with COVID vaccination, including boosters, reduces the likelihood of spreading COVID to others.

7. Does COVID booster vaccination reduce my risk of developing long COVID (prolonged symptoms related to COVID infection)?

Yes, COVID booster vaccination reduces the risk of developing long COVID. A recent study reported a “50–81% reduction in reporting symptoms among those who received two doses for seven of the ten most commonly reported symptoms.” (Kuodi, et al, JP https://doi.org/10.1038/s41541-022-00526-5)

8. Does COVID booster vaccination reduce my risk of hospitalization due to COVID?

Among adults aged 50 and older, vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization during BA.2/BA.2.12.1 increased to 80% after a fourth dose, a recent study found. (MMWR / July 22, 2022 / Vol. 71 / No. 29)

9. Does COVID booster vaccination reduce my risk of dying from COVID?

Yes, a recently published study found that people age 50 and older who were up to date with COVID booster vaccination were 14 times less likely to die from COVID-related causes than unvaccinated people in the same age group.

To find vaccine clinics near you visit the Rhode Island Department of Health's website

Leonard Mermel, DO

Leonard A. Mermel, DO

Dr. Leonard Mermel is an infectious diseases specialist and medical director of the department of epidemiology and infection control at Lifespan.