FILE — Kathryn Varela gets her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from Columbia Safety Medical employee and medical assistant Moises Roman Wednesday, May 19, 2021 at Yakima Valley College in Yakima, Wash.

With the federal government recommending booster shots for certain recipients of one coronavirus vaccine and evaluating what should happen for people who got two other kinds of shots, things are getting trickier to track.

What you should know is that while the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are all working well to prevent serious COVID-19 cases and deaths, research shows an additional dose can amp up the protection for those who need it most.

The Food and Drug Administration is planning to allow Americans to “mix and match” by receiving a different COVID-19 vaccine as a booster than the one they initially received. But that hasn’t happened yet. Here's a guide with the status of each company’s booster approval so far:


Pfizer’s boosters are available in Washington state. The CDC recommends a booster shot if you’re over age 18, completed your last Pfizer shot at least six months ago and fall into at least one of these categories:

  • You live in a long-term care setting such as a care facility, senior housing or a group home.
  • You have an underlying medical condition like the ones listed here. (If you have a condition that’s not on the list, talk to your doctor.)
  • You work in a high-risk setting: this applies to first responders, school workers, grocery workers, public-transit employees and more.
  • You live in a high-risk setting.
  • You’re 65 years or older.


The FDA is expected to authorize boosters of the Moderna vaccine on Wednesday, then advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will tackle the issue Thursday. The CDC will then issue recommendations on who’s eligible.

Johnson & Johnson

The FDA is expected to authorize boosters of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Wednesday, then advisers to the CDC will tackle the issue Thursday. The CDC will then issue recommendations on who’s eligible.

What about vaccines for kids?

Children ages 12 and up can get their initial shots now, and Pfizer has asked the FDA to authorize its vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The agency is meeting Oct. 26 to consider that request, and advisers to the CDC will follow with a meeting Nov. 2-3. White House officials have said millions of doses will begin going to providers across the country within hours of formal approval.

Children under age 5 will have a longer wait; Moderna and Pfizer are studying how the vaccines are working on them.

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