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Protecting Yourself and Others Ver página en español

The COVID-19 vaccines work very well at protecting against severe illness, hospitalization, and death against both the Delta and Omicron variants. While vaccines aren't as effective at preventing infection from Omicron, boosters greatly improve it. This is why it is strongly recommended that anyone age 12 and over gets a booster dose when it is due. Being up to date with all COVID-19 vaccine doses is your best protection against COVID-19.

Being “fully vaccinated” gives you more freedom to work, visit certain venues, and in some cases to travel with fewer restrictions. BUT getting up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including a booster dose (when eligible), provides the best protection. See COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Table for timing of booster doses.

Breakthrough infection
Once you are vaccinated, there is still a risk that you could get infected. This is called breakthrough infection. When vaccinated people get infected, they don’t usually get as sick as unvaccinated people and their symptoms normally don’t last as long. The risk of breakthrough infection appears to be higher with the Omicron variant, especially for people who have not had a booster dose. People who get breakthrough infections can spread COVID-19 to others. Getting a booster dose as soon as you are eligible is the best way to make sure you stay protected.

Continue to take precautions to protect yourself and others even if you are up to date with all your COVID-19 vaccines.

  • Wear a well-fitting mask indoors and when required outdoors (see below).
  • Wash (or sanitize) your hands often.
  • Stay home when you are sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should isolate, talk with a doctor, and get tested.
  • Continue to take extra precautions if you are moderately to severely immunocompromised. See people with weak immune systems.

For information on what to expect after you get a vaccine, including vaccine side effects and how to report them, see After you get a vaccine.

When Am I Up to Date on My COVID-19 Vaccines?

You are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines when you are fully vaccinated and have received your booster dose, when eligible. See COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Table.

You are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks after completing your primary series. This means 2 weeks after:

You are eligible for a booster dose*:

  • 2 months after your J&J COVID-19 vaccine
  • 5 months after your last dose of your Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
  • 5 months after your last dose of your Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

*If you did not receive an FDA approved/authorized primary series, see alternate scenarios below.

The CDC does not recommend that people mix-and-match COVID-19 vaccines for the primary series. Because some countries do mix-and-match vaccines, the CDC has guidance for determining when you can be considered fully vaccinated. Per CDC guidance, you are fully vaccinated 2 weeks after getting the second dose of any combination of vaccines that are approved or authorized by the FDA or listed by the WHO as a 2-dose series. There must be at least 17 days between dose 1 and dose 2 for you to be considered fully vaccinated (21 days with a 4-day grace period).

You are eligible for a Pfizer booster dose 5 months after the second dose.

  • If you got a full series of a COVID-19 vaccine that is approved or authorized by the FDA or listed by the WHO:
    • You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your final dose.
    • You are eligible for a Pfizer booster dose 5 months after the second dose if you are age 12 or older.
  • If you got some or all of a series of a COVID-19 vaccine that is NOT approved or authorized by the FDA or listed by the WHO:
    • You are not considered to be fully vaccinated by US authorities.
    • If you want to be considered fully vaccinated in the US, you will need to complete a new series of a vaccine that is authorized or approved by the FDA or listed by the WHO. You should wait at least 28 days before starting an FDA authorized/approved COVID-19 vaccine primary series.
  • If you started a series of a COVID-19 vaccine that is listed by the WHO but is not available in the US:
    • You are not considered to be fully vaccinated by US authorities.
    • If you are already in the US and want to be considered fully vaccinated, you need to complete a series of a vaccine that is authorized or approved by the FDA. You should wait at least 28 days before starting the FDA authorized/approved COVID-19 vaccine primary series.

If you took part in a clinical COVID-19 vaccine trial (such as the AstraZeneca, Novavax, or Moderna in children age 6-17) and you received the “active” COVID-19 vaccine (not placebo):

  • You are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after receiving your second dose of vaccine.
  • You should get a Pfizer booster dose 5 months after the second dose of your vaccine, unless you have received or plan to receive a booster dose through the clinical trial.
People with weak immune systems

If you have a health condition or are taking medications that moderately or severely weaken your immune system, vaccination may not be as effective. Talk with your doctor about treatments to help prevent COVID-19 infection. See Medicines to Treat and Prevent COVID-19 for more information.

It is very important that you continue to protect yourself after vaccination. This includes:

  • wearing a well-fitting mask,
  • maintaining physical distance,
  • avoiding crowded places or spaces with poor air flow, and
  • washing hands often.

Consider “double masking” (wearing a cloth face mask over surgical mask) or a respirator (N95 or KN95) for a higher level of protection. The people you are in close contact with can help to protect you by getting vaccinated too.

You should also plan on getting your additional/booster dose based on what your primary vaccine series was:

  • If you received 2 doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you should get an additional (3rd) dose of the same vaccine at least 28 days after the 2nd dose.
  • If you received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, you should get a booster dose at least 2 months later. A Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is preferred as a booster. This is because we know now that these vaccines offer better protection against COVID-19 than the J&J vaccine. In addition, potential risks from the J&J vaccine, while still very rare, are greater. However, you can still get a J&J vaccine booster if you prefer it or if you can’t get a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for medical reasons (such as severe allergic reaction to a vaccine ingredient).
  • If you are considered fully vaccinated with a non-FDA approved/authorized vaccine series, you should get an additional (3rd) dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least 28 days after completing the primary series.

For more information, see Booster Doses or Doses for Immunocompromised. Talk with your doctor if you have questions.

Note: you are still considered fully vaccinated even if you do not get a 3rd dose or a booster dose.

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  • Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

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