The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting an omicron-specific (bivalent) booster, which targets the original strain of the coronavirus as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants. The original monovalent vaccines are no longer available.
It’s safe and effective to choose which vaccine you receive as a booster, either Pfizer or Moderna, regardless of which initial vaccines your received. The Novavax booster can only be used as a first booster shot; if you’ve gotten one or several boosters, you cannot receive a Novavax booster. If you are at least 18 and received one or two J&J vaccine doses, you are eligible for a Moderna or Pfizer bivalent vaccine at least two months after your last dose.
Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, along with your health insurance card, if you have one. You won’t be charged for the initial vaccine series, or a booster shot, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine. After your first shot, bring your vaccine card for subsequent shots.
The federal government allocates COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to pharmacies that are partnered with long-term care facilities to provide vaccinations, mainly on-site. Facilities that don’t have a pharmacy partner are encouraged to work with local or state health departments — or the federal government, if need be — to provide vaccinations.
You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting a vaccine or a booster. AARP fought to make sure the federal government covers the cost of the vaccine itself.
Scammers purport to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and try to charge for them. AARP's Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.
You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered.
You may need your vaccine card to schedule a booster shot. You may also need it for certain kinds of travel or other activities and may want to take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. Experts warn that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft.
If you’ve lost your vaccine card, call the site where you were vaccinated to request a new one or a copy of your vaccination record. You can also contact your state health department to request a replacement card or a copy of your record.
All vaccines reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections and are highly effective at preventing severe illness and death from the disease. No vaccine is 100 percent effective, and infections can still occur post-vaccination.
This guide, originally published Jan. 13, 2021, was updated on May 26, 2023, with new CDC recommendations.
This story is provided by AARP Massachusetts. Visit the AARP Massachusetts page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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