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Which COVID-19 vaccine booster shot should I get? Here's how to choose

Rong-Gong Lin II and Luke Money, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

People can now mix and match COVID-19 vaccines, but it raises the question: Which booster is the best option?

Federal health officials aren’t giving any specific recommendations, other than to say it’s important to get a booster if you’re eligible. It’s especially crucial for people 65 and over, adults 50 and older with underlying health conditions — which includes being overweight or having high blood pressure, depression or diabetes — and anyone who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

All adults with underlying health conditions, are eligible for a booster dose, as are all adults who live or work in settings at higher risk for coronavirus exposure, such as employees of hospitals, schools and grocery stores.

But in the absence of an official recommendation, how do you make an informed decision? Here’s what we know:

Generally, which vaccines have performed better?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report in September analyzing vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 hospitalizations from mid-March through mid-August.


The report found that between two weeks and four months after a person was fully vaccinated, the two-dose Moderna vaccine offered the highest effectiveness against hospitalization: 93%. The two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine offered 91% protection.

Researchers also looked at the potential for immunity, which wanes over time, four months after getting the last dose. Effectiveness against hospitalizations remained quite strong for Moderna recipients — 92% — but fell to 77% for the Pfizer vaccine.

Available data for the J&J vaccine showed that vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization more than 28 days after getting the single-shot dose was 68%. Data showing the difference in effectiveness on the same time scale as for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines was not available.

What booster should a J&J vaccine recipient get?


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