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Here’s When to Get Your Older Kids Their Booster Shot

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Photo: Marina Demidiuk (Shutterstock)

Teenagers are now eligible for booster doses of their COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC has announced. Until now, boosters were only for adults aged 18 and up. Children with weakened immune systems can now also get a third primary dose, even if they are not old enough for a booster.

The timeline is also different for teens than for the general population. While the rest of us should get a booster six months after finishing our initial series, kids aged 12 to 17 should get their booster five months after their second dose.

So far, we’re only talking about Pfizer vaccines. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are not authorized for this age group. (There’s a chart here showing which vaccines are authorized for which age groups if you forget, which even I sometimes do.)

The recommendations for kids age 5 and up are therefore:

  • First shot of Pfizer
  • At least three weeks later, a second dose of Pfizer
  • If the child is at least 12 years old, then five months after the second shot, they can get a booster dose of Pfizer.

The CDC has also recommended a third primary dose for kids over age 5 who are “moderately to severely” immunocompromised. Technically this is not considered a booster; they just have a three-dose primary series instead of a two-dose series. This now matches the recommendation for immunocompromised adults. A vaccine schedule for an immunocompromised child would look like this:

  • First shot of Pfizer
  • At least three weeks later, a second shot of Pfizer
  • At least four week after the second shot, a third dose of Pfizer
  • If the child is at least 12 years old, then five months after the third shot, they can get a booster dose of Pfizer.

These schedules are the same as for adults, with the exception that boosters for 12-to-17-year-olds come five months after the final primary shot, whereas that window is six months for adults.