Doses for people who are immunocompromised
Specific Instructions for people with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised)
People with weakened immune systems are more likely to get COVID-19 than people with normal immune systems. And if they get infected they are more likely to get seriously ill and to spread the virus to other people in their home.
Studies have shown that some people who are immunocompromised don’t build enough protection after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccine series.
If you have a weakened immune system, you should get an additional and/or booster dose based on what your primary vaccine series was. See COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility: Primary, Additional, and Booster Doses for a summary.
A booster dose is strongly recommended
- The CDC recommends that moderately to severely immunocompromised people whose primary series was J&J receive a booster dose at least 2 months (8 weeks) after the primary dose.
- Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are preferred as boosters. 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).
Talk to your doctor if you have questions. Ask your doctor for the best timing based on your current treatment plan. This is especially important if you are about to start or restart immunosuppressive treatment.
Johnson & Johnson
Pfizer or Moderna
If you are age 12 and older and considered fully vaccinated in the U.S. and you have a moderately to severely weakened immune system, the CDC recommends that you get an additional dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. It should be received at least 28 days after completing your primary series.
Moderately to severely immunocompromise includes the following:
- Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress the immune response
This 3rd dose should be a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor about the need to get an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Ask about the best timing based on your current treatment plan. This is especially important if you are about to start or restart immunosuppressive treatment.
If you are age 12 or older, you should get a Pfizer booster dose at least 5 months after receiving the additional Pfizer dose.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the only vaccine authorized as and additional dose or booster for people who did not receive an FDA authorized/approved COVID-19 vaccine series. Make sure to find a location that offers the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
- If your doctor’s facility does not provide vaccines, search below for a location near you.
- If your primary vaccine series was Moderna or Pfizer and you are looking for an additional 3rd dose, make sure to find a location that offers the same kind of vaccine as your primary series.
- If your primary series was a WHO-listed vaccine or received as part of a clinical trial or if you are under age 18 you can only receive a Pfizer vaccine, make sure to find a location that offers the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
- When you go to get vaccinated, take proof of vaccination such as your CDC white card or digital vaccination record (see Vaccination Records webpage for details, including how to get your digital record) to show that you completed your initial series.
For more information, see the
J&J Fact Sheets for Recipients and Caregivers and the CDC webpage
COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People.
Continue to protect yourself
It is important to continue to protect yourself even if you get a 3rd dose of vaccine or booster dose. This includes wearing a mask the fits and filters well, 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 an N95 respirator for a higher level of protection. The people you are in close contact with can help to protect you by getting vaccinated and boosted if eligible.